Project sheds light on dating, domestic abuse

Senior Gilly Bortman concentrates on designing her T-shirt for the Clothesline Project, an event to raise awareness on sexual assault, dating and domestic violence. Vincent Fung//The Miami Hurricane

On a normal weekday, the University Green is filled with Frisbees, towels, and the occasional puppy. But next Wednesday, the University Green will be filled with a line of shirts.

The shirts are part of The Clothesline Project, an international project that brings awareness to dating and domestic violence. The University of Miami Sexual Assault Response Team  (SART) received a grant from the Verizon Foundation to fund the project and worked alongside No Zebras, Pier 21 and Counseling Outreach Peer Education (COPE) to bring the event to campus.

The Clothesline Project started in 1990 in Massachusetts and has spread to 41 states and 5 countries, according to the project’s website. Volunteers create T-shirts for the project with messages and pictures about dating and domestic violence. The shirts are then hung in a public area to give bystanders a chance to observe and comment. This is the first time the University of Miami has participated in the event.

Jessica Genet, a predoctoral intern, worked with Dr. Carolyn Eberhardt in the Counseling Center to get student organizations involved with the event. She said the project is about “the idea of exposing the pain that people have been through because it’s often not acknowledged.”

“It’s interactive because you can see the T-shirts and have a conversation about them,” Genet said.

Participants decorated T-shirts for the project on Wednesday night.

“Traditionally, the project is based on the color of shirt,” said senior Coral Millican, the press secretary of No Zebras. “We decided not to use the colored shirts. You decorate, destroy, however you feel to kind of represent your experience or your reaction or how it makes you feel as a community member.”

No Zebras, the organization hosting the T-shirt decorating events, will be hosting a T-shirt decorating session on Thursday at the Stanford Residential College’s Master’s Apartment at 7 p.m.

Next Wednesday, the T-shirts will be displayed on clotheslines clipped to trees across the University Green from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“They will be integrated with the university,” Genet said.

Participating organizations and counseling center staff will have tables nearby to encourage students to discuss their reactions.

Senior Robert Hupf made a shirt on Wednesday to protest the offensive comments he saw on a University of Miami meme.

“The first few comments are rape jokes, really bad ones that were offensive,” Hupf said. “My friends and I called them out on it and it got a lot of support from others because rape isn’t funny. Rape culture is the idea that we’ve become so desensitized to the effect of rape we just make jokes and ignore the issue … I want people to know that if they don’t say anything about it, they are part of the problem.”

Participants felt that students from all backgrounds could appreciate the event.

“It’s worthwhile because it allows students to express themselves even if they haven’t been directly impacted by abuse or don’t know anyone,” said senior Gilly Bortman, who also participated in the event.