Multiple Gonzaga University students wrote their stories of being affected by sexual assault for the Clothesline Project, an anonymous shirt display shown on Tuesday outside on the Foley Library field.
The visual display, organized by the Gonzaga Student Body Association, was part of efforts to recognize Sexual Assault Awareness month, by showing the impacts of sexual assault on GU's campus.
Alyssa Guzman-Johnstone, a freshman senator, helped organize the project and said participants wrote anonymous messages related to sexual assault on the back of colored shirts.
According to Guzman-Johnstone, the shirts, depending on their color, had different messages related to aspects of sexual assault. The shirts included writing from students who knew survivors of sexual assault, survivors of childhood abuse, and survivors of rape, in addition to affirmations.
“Prevention of sexual assault and raising awareness for it is something that I have always been passionate about," Guzman-Johnston said. "Seeing that nothing was done in the month of April, I am a freshman senator on GSBA, so I took it upon myself to start something for sexual assault awareness month and fulfill that passion of mine.”
GU's student government has been supporting Guzman-Johnston's project through its senators and funding.
“It sets a really good precedent for the kinds of engagement that can come out of the Senate beyond it just being a legislative body," Miguel Acosta Loza, student body president. "When passion is there and when you have that connection that you want to engage with your community, it makes you see how influential our senate can be.”
Acosta Loza said the issue of sexual assault has impacted the campus and that it is important that there are events on campus that raise awareness to this issue. He said he hoped the event will lead to greater action around the sexual assault on campus.
Acosta Loza said the visual display was emotional, with students being able to see the pain of the student experiences.
“Once you see those stories and once you see the pain behind that and how preventable things can be, it's enraging," Acosta Loza said. "I think it is important to keep our community enraged because it is unacceptable and we are not going to stand quiet. Displays like that are very hard to grapple with but are very necessary.”
Both Guzman-Johnston and Acosta Loza said they hoped students on campus would notice the event and grow in their understanding of the impact sexual assault on campus.
“Everyone has been super supportive," Guzman-Johnston said. "I have had the privilege of meeting with a variety of different students who have felt that this project and this event is really important and a lot of students value it. If I can make an impact on even one individual on campus then that is my goal.”