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CSU students raise awareness of sexual assault

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Christie Wooten bought 20 plain, white T-shirts on Sunday night. She thought her purchase would be enough to get the Southern Crescent Sexual Assault Center, and the Clayton State University chapter of Psi Chi the International Honor Society in Psychology, through the first two days of their "Clothesline Project."

The project is an activity in which Clayton State students get to draw and write anti-sexual assault messages on the T-shirts. The shirts will be hung on a clothesline in CSU's quadrangle area of campus. Last year, students penned 40 T-shirts for the inaugural project.

By noon on Monday, Wooten, the community outreach coordinator for the Southern Crescent Sexual Assault Center, said she had run out of shirts, and had to buy 60 more. By 2 p.m., on Tuesday, she said she was running out of shirts again. Wooten said she will begin hanging up the shirts today.

The "Clothesline Project" table will be located on "Main Street," in the school's James M. Baker University Center, on Clayton State's Morrow campus between 10 a.m., and 6 p.m., today and Thursday to pen shirts for the project.

"We're very excited by the level of participation we're seeing from students this year. Clayton State is a wonderful campus that is full of diverse people who are showing their support for this effort," said Wooten.

This is the second year that the Southern Crescent Sexual Assault Center and Psi Chi have teamed up to host sexual assault awareness events at Clayton State.

The project is a build-up to the second annual "Take Back The Night" rally and march, which the two organizations will co-host on Thursday, beginning at 7 p.m., at Clayton State's Eugene Lawson Amphitheater, which is located in front of the university center, Wooten said.

Wooten added that representatives from the Clayton County Police Department and the Clayton County solicitor general's office who deal with sexual assault crimes are expected to speak at the rally. "After they speak, we're going to march around the university center, to the quad and the shirts, and then to Clayton Hall," she said.

Wooten said the groups are doing the "Clothesline Project" and the "Take Back The Night" rally and march because "we just wanted to raise awareness of sexual assault and domestic violence."

According to 2008 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10.6 percent of women, and 2.1 percent of men, who responded to a "nationally representative survey" of 9,684 adults, said they were forced to have sex against their will at some point in their lives.

Wooten said there is no cost to make a shirt for the "Clothesline Project." The T-shirts that have been made so far contain a mix of anti-sexual assault artwork, and messages. One student drew a heart, wrapped in a ribbon, with a chain, and the phrase, "Lock away the violence" underneath. On the back of the shirt, the student drew a key.

Some students have stuck with written messages, though, covering shirts with phrases, such as "Yo! No Means No!" and "Join together. Free our lives. We will NOT be VICTIMS!"

Clayton State Psi Chi chapter President Katie Williamson said the groups sought to increase participation in the "Clothesline Project" this year by going to student organizations and speaking to them about the project. "We got in touch with a lot of the fraternities and sororities on campus and invited them to participate," she said. "Many of them have already come by and made shirts, both individually and as a group."

Neketia Jordan, a senior psychology major from McDonough, was one of the first-year participants in the project who made a shirt on Tuesday. She is a Psi Chi member, and an intern at the Southern Crescent Sexual Assault Center.

Jordan said she participated in the project this year because she knows someone who has been a victim of domestic violence, and has seen what effect it had on that person. She kept her shirt design simple, with just a heart and the phrase, "LOVE SHOULD NEVER HURT."

"The message is for people to take a step back, and think about what they are doing," Jordan said. "With the victim, they have to live with this for the rest of their lives. For the perpetrator, if they are caught, it means time out of their life that they have to spend in jail for something that didn't need to happen."

Lauren Hobbs, a freshman psychology major from Forest Park, and president of the Jagged Edges self-injury awareness student organization, said she participated because she is a former self-injury addict. "My [self-injury] addiction stems from a general anxiety disorder that was aggravated when I was in a relationship where I was ... abused," Hobbs said. "The message we wanted to convey with our shirt is, 'Love heals all wounds.'"