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Clothesline Project at Mount St. Mary’s Raises Awareness, Discussion of Sexual Violence

clotheslineEMMITSBURG, Md. (May 1, 2018) – A clothesline strung in front of the windows of the Mount Café this month is filled with more than 100 colorful cards on which Mount St. Mary’s University students have expressed their beliefs, attitudes and experiences regarding sexual violence. Though the Clothesline Project, over the past month EmpowerMount, a student group, collaborated with Heartly House to provide Mount students with an opportunity to speak out against sexual violence and learn about available resources. Heartly House, the only organization in Frederick County that provides comprehensive services to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse,  provided materials and resources for students.

A closing event is being held on May 1 at 6 p.m. in the Mount Café. Speakers will include Mount St. Mary’s President Timothy E. Trainor, Ph.D., Pratibha Kumar, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication, and Inga James, executive director of Heartly House. The Mount’s Counseling Services and Heartly House will offer resources, and the GO TEAM Therapy dogs will be present after the event.

The Clothesline Project, a visual display to educate the community about the problem of sexual violence and domestic abuse as well as the availability of hope, help and support, has been held on many college campuses, often with T-shirts with messages hung on the clothesline. EmpowerMount leaders chose to replicate the adaption of the project introduced by feminist and artist Monica Mayer that was presented at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The cards that replaced the articles of clothing allow for possible anonymous participation through submissions placed in lock boxes. Working with Heartly House, EmpowerMount members also ran workshops on sexual violence over the past two months.

Jai Wright, assistant director of student life, who has served as an advisor to EmpowerMount, praised the group’s leaders for seeking to “better their mountain home by developing and training on a peer-to-peer designed workshop to discuss sexual violence as well as digging deeper into why sexual violence still occurs.” Other advisors to the group include Dean of Student Ken McVearry and Nina Carr, outreach and volunteer coordinator for the Heartly House. EmpowerMount is led by Shannon Dunne, C’19, Patrick Fitzgerald, C’19, Bridget Leonard, C’19, Taylor Remsburg, C’19, and Aimee Solano, C’18. Heartly House intern Emily Myers was also integrally involved in the project.

The Clothesline Project benefitted from the work of many campus partners. The Center for Campus Diversity supported the project, while Counseling Services provided services and resources. Residence Life assisted students in creating the EmpowerMount workshop and leadership development, and iLEAD and Campus Recreation and Intramurals provided the EmpowerMount leaders with forums in which to pilot their workshop. First-year Symposium faculty members, encouraged by Assistant Professor Gregory Murry, Ph.D., arranged for EmpowerMount workshop facilitators to meet with their classes. Marketing and Communications helped promote the event to the campus, and Housing and Dining Services provided the space in the Mount Café to display the Clothesline Project.

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