TTU plans events recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Tennessee Tech University will be hosting a series of events — including a lecture about violence from a male perspective and its annual Clothesline Project and Take Back the Night rally — in observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

They kick off on Tuesday, April 4, with the opening of the Clothesline Project, a visual display of T-shirts created by local residents — women, children and men — who’ve been affected by violence, and concludes with a presentation about manhood and violence against women.

TTU’s Clothesline Project, patterned after the National Clothesline Project which began in 1990, will be exhibited in the Tech Pride Room of the Roaden University Center from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4.

“An area will be set up at the back of the room for individuals who are moved by the display to make their own shirts telling their personal stories of violence,” said Gretta Stanger, director of TTU’s Women’s Center. “Already, we have more than 200 shirts — it’s literally a maze of shirts when the display is complete — and our collection grows each year.”

TTU’s Clothesline Project began about seven years ago, and when the display is exhibited each year, offers are often made to purchase one or more of the shirts, Stanger said.

“These are individual creations in a continuing collection, however, so none of the shirts are for sale — but whenever anyone asks, I know that something depicted by the display has moved that person on a very personal level,” she said.

The shirts are coded into five color categories: white, for women who’ve died from violence; yellow or beige, for women who have been battered or assaulted; red, pink or orange, for women who’ve been raped or sexually assaulted; blue or green, for women survivors of incest or child sexual abuse; and purple or lavender, for women attack because of their sexual orientation.

According to statistics from the National Victims Center, one out of every two women will be in a violent relationship at some point in their lives.

But Sexual Assault Awareness Month isn’t just for women, and a TTU discussion by Jackson Katz, one of America’s leading anti-sexist activists, will present it from a male perspective.

His presentation, titled “More than a Few Good Men: A Lecture on American Manhood and Violence Against Women,” is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4, in Derryberry Hall Auditorium and is a Center Stage event.

In 1993, Katz founded the Mentors in Violence Prevention Program at Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society. It’s the first large-scale attempt to enlist high school, collegiate and professional athletes to take a stand against rape and all other forms of men’s violence against women.

He is also the creator of several award-winning educational videos for college and high school students, and his expertise has led him to appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America and other national television programs.

TTU’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month events culminate with the “Take Back the Night” rally, march and candlelight vigil beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 17, from the front steps of the Roaden University Center.

To present this event, TTU’s Women’s Center joins with the Tech Ladies Coalition, the Commission on the Status of Women and Lori Maxwell’s gender and politics class.

A worldwide community action initiative to end domestic and sexual violence and abuse, “Take Back the Night” efforts provide an organized platform for communities to proclaim their refusal to tolerate continued violence and abuse and promotes healing for survivors.

The keynote speaker of this year’s “Take Back the Night” will be Vali Forrister, director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center’s Communication and Outreach Center and co-founder of Nashville’s Actors Bridge Ensemble, a theater company devoted to social justice.

Forrister’s talk will kick off the event at 7:30 p.m. on the front steps of the RUC.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information about TTU’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month events, call the university Women’s Center at 931/372-3850.