Responsible relationships

HOUGHTON – For the past week, visitors to Michigan Technological University’s campus may have noticed an unusual sight – clotheslines strung with hand-decorated T-shirts. The T-shirts, bearing messages concerning sexual assault, respect and consent, are part of the Clothesline Project and one aspect of Michigan Tech’s Responsible Relationship Awareness Week.

“This week is meant to help students understand dangerous behaviors and sexual assault and to develop strategies to protect themselves,” said Renee Wells, assistant director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Michigan Tech.

The annual week of events takes place the third week of September and is hosted by the Title IX committee in collaboration with student organizations and local non-profit organizations. The Clothesline Project is a national campaign in which universities around the country participate by asking students to decorate T-shirts with messages pertaining to violence against women. At Michigan Tech, the project was sponsored this year by the Women’s Programming Committee and T-shirts were decorated by individual students and student organizations before being hung around campus for the duration of Responsible Relationship Awareness Week.

“The shirts have been hung around campus so students can see the messages and understand that their peers are speaking out,” Wells said.

Thursday evening Dial Help hosted a “Forget Stranger Danger” event for a group of administrators and students as part of the effort educate students about sexual assault on campus. Among the statistics shared were that one in four college-aged women and one in six college-aged men are victims of sexual assault. Of those assaults, 88 percent are committed by people known to the victim such as friends, family and acquaintances.

During the presentation, An-gel Kenneally, sexual assault services coordinator for Dial Help, encouraged discussion on a number of different scenarios. The group discussed what they would do as a both a victim and a bystander.

“Part of popular culture now is not saying anything, and that’s what we need to address,” Kenneally said.

Kenneally also shared some of the resources available to Michigan Tech students who have been victims of sexual assault. Victim services include the Campus Victim Advocate Response Team (CVART), which provides students with support 24 hours a day, seven days a week through trained advocates who are able to meet the students anywhere on or off campus – including at the hospital or police station – to help them through the problem and assist with any decisions the student makes regarding prosecution. To contact CVART, call 866-661-5589. Dial Help can also assist assault victims and can be reached at 482-4357.