The UChicago Clothesline Project is a student-run effort on campus that seeks to recognize sexual assault survivors within our campus community. We do this by giving survivors the opportunity to tell their stories through art rendered onto a t-shirt, and then displaying all of these shirts and stories for the community to see. While this process may sound simple, it is anything but--it requires incredible amounts of time and resources. And that's why we need your help.
This past year, our campus community has been amazingly generous: so many have volunteered to help, and we have received financial assistance from sources including RSVP, Gender Studies, and the Dean's Fund. Unfortunately, when we applied to Student Government for funding during the next academic year, our total request for $1000 to run t-shirt making sessions (this includes only what is necessary to make the shirts and some food for the artists that spend hours doing so), we were met with a firm refusal: no funding. Not $500. Not $100. Not even 50 cents. We were given $0.00, and the opportunity to come back with more stories and petition SGFC for each of the 9 sessions.
The problem with this decision is that our t-shirt making sessions are the story-telling impetus for the majority of the survivors that choose to share them. Whenever we advertise our sessions, we get more stories than at any other point during the year, despite the fact that we advertise continuously. Not only that, but survivors will often come to the sessions without submitting a story in order to make their own shirts, and we are perfectly happy for them to do that: we want to be a resource, an open door, and a safe space. We do not want survivors to feel hindered by a bureaucratic process when they share what is often a painful experience. All of this we communicated to SG in our appeal of their decision. We were denied again: $0.00.
What does this mean? This means that, if nothing changes, we will have to ask survivors to let us know that they are submitting, or risk not being able to show that we have sufficient stories, as we will have to wait until SG thinks that we have "enough" stories before we can receive funding for the materials to make them. Even then, we are not guaranteed any funds. Ultimately, all of this means that we will not be able to serve the survivors in our community as well as we should, because we will be putting yet another barrier between a survivor and the ability to tell his or her story.
What can you do? Help us create the campus environment that sexual assault survivors deserve by signing today and telling Student Government that they need to do better than nothing.