The Clothesline Project becomes increasingly relevant for “Happy Valley”
In an effort to increase awareness, students gathered in the Grand Ballroom to share and view anonymous student stories of domestic violence and sexual abuse as part of the Clothesline Project. This initiative came to a campus at a particularly relevant moment as two UVU students have been arrested on sexual assault charges.
Since 1998, this event has been held at UVU. The Clothesline Project educates students and the community that violence is a problem everywhere, help is available, there is always hope and healing.
“Students that come to the event usually have a very somber reaction,” said Hayden Brooks, senior in biology, and a volunteer for The Clothesline Project. “It can be extremely emotional seeing the t-shirts and reading the awful things that have occurred, but ultimately we want that reaction. We want people to leave knowing that this is an issue and it’s happening all around us.”
Those attending the event who have been affected by violence are given the opportunity to share their personal stories and emotions by creating a T-shirt that is then put on display for viewers. Since the project began, over 3000 shirts have been made.
The Clothesline Project’s mission is to “Provide a visual reminder of statistics that we often ignore. It gives a voice to those who have been forcibly silenced. Hopefully, it stirs us to action. Most importantly, this project provides survivors with a venue to courageously break the silence and make us aware. This Clothesline Project is a tribute to them.”
UVU has recently received attention in the media in regards to sexual violence.
A former UVU wrestler, Dayton Lee Racer, who was suspended from the team when he was charged with rape in 2018, was arrested for another alleged sexual assault. Racer is facing a first-degree felony rape charge. And UVU student-athlete, Zachary Mogbo, was arrested after allegedly assaulting a woman at an Orem house party.
Both these arrests occurred within the same week.
According to Campus Sexual Violence, estimates of sexual assault, which vary based on definitions and methodology, generally find that somewhere between 19–27% of college women and 6–8% of college men are sexually assaulted during their time in college.
“We often think of Utah as “Happy Valley” a generally safe place,” said Brooks. “But we can see at our school and in our community sexual violence and abuse is a reality, we must educate people that this is a real thing.”
Photos by Natasha Colburn