By Mallory Schake ’25, Staff Writer
October 13, 2022
Saturday, October 8th marked the reinstitution of the Clothesline Project at St. John Fisher after a two-year COVID hiatus. Members of the campus community participated in the Nationwide Project, which has a mission to raise awareness for and fight gender-based violence.
Dr. Lisa Cunningham, the Director of the Women and Gender Studies Department, is the organizer of the event at Fisher. She, in conjunction with the Fisher Feminist Alliance, invited students, staff, and faculty to participate in the project which is up in LeChase Commons throughout the week following October 10th.
Saturday’s events consisted of putting t-shirts decorated by those affected by gender-based violence onto clotheslines hung between trees around the commons. In her email inviting the campus to participate, Dr. Cunningham described the project as “a vehicle for individuals affected by sexual, domestic, dating, and other forms of gender-based violence to express their emotions by decorating a shirt.”
The shirts on display represent the voices of those at Fisher over the past 15+ years. Fisher Feminist Alliance’s President, Madison Weber, explained that gender-based violence is prevalent in our community even though we may not realize it. “It’s real and it happens, and it happens on our campus,” she explained. “The t-shirts are visual representations of the people this has affected, and I know for me seeing this many is heartbreaking.”
With the help of several students, the project took around an hour and a half to complete. While it is extremely important to the project to express as many voices as possible, there were so many t-shirts the group was not able to hang every shirt up at the time that the project took place. This speaks to the number of campus community members who have created shirts and been personally affected by this issue. “Every single t-shirt is a person and every single t-shirt is a story,” Weber stated.
The Fisher Feminist Alliance became involved in the project after they were approached by their advisor, Dr. Jill Swiencicki, and asked to be involved. Webber explained that the issue of gender-based violence “really is very central to the mission of the Fisher Feminist Alliance.” The group also advertised the event on their social media pages, explaining the importance of the community’s role in speaking out to support the victims of gender-based violence.
More information behind the Clothesline Project, including the history of the initiative as well as Fisher’s participation in the project, can be found here.
The Fisher Feminist Alliance is a group for any Fisher student who is passionate about feminism and collaborating on gender-based issues. The club meets on Mondays from 6-7 in Basil 210, and you can find more information here.