campus news and events

Colby-Sawyer College Hosts the 2014 N.H. Clothesline Project to Raise Awareness of Violence and Sexual Abuse

Colby-Sawyer College will host the annual New Hampshire Clothesline Project for the 19th consecutive year. The Clothesline Project is a display of t-shirts with written messages and illustrations demonstrating the impact of sexual, domestic and mental abuse. Created by survivors of violence and those close to them, the shirts represent the need to “break the silence” of victims.

Sponsored by Colby-Sawyer's Department of Campus Safety and AmeriCorps, the event will be held in the Mercer Hall gymnasium and is free of charge to all college and community members. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 9 through Friday, April 11, and from 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday, April 12.

Colby-Sawyer Campus Safety Operations Coordinator Donna Brennan introduced the Clothesline Project to campus in 2005 in an effort to educate men and women about sexual assault and domestic violence. After organizing the event for 17 years, Brennan handed over responsibility to Ashley Cail in 2013. A 2013 Colby-Sawyer graduate, Cail became involved with the Clothesline Project as a first-year student and calls Brennan her mentor. Cail describes the annual event a “life changing” tribute to victims of violence.

Cail's family and friends, including her parents, aunts and uncles from across New England, help with the set-up and disassembly of the Clothesline Project. Cail admits the task can be bittersweet. “It is a good feeling to get the message out about these problems and to do it with my family. My dad has become quite the MacGyver stringing ropes to hang the shirts,” says Cail. “But each year, as the number of t-shirts grows, so have the number of victims.”

The latest national statistics reveal that in 64 percent of female homicide cases, the murders were committed by a family member or intimate partner; 24 percent of female homicide victims were killed by a spouse or ex-spouse; 21 percent were killed by a boyfriend or girlfriend; and 19 percent by another family member. One in four college women have experienced rape or attempted rape. Every day, approximately 1,870 sexual assaults occur across the United States. A survey of female high school students found that one in five had experienced forced sex and that half told no one about the incident. Sixty percent of all rapes reported to rape crisis centers are committed by acquaintances, and the majority of victims are ages 16 to 24.

Cail, an athletic trainer at Stevens High School in Claremont, N.H., hopes that exposing young people to the Clothesline Project will strengthen awareness and help with prevention. She plans to invite her students to attend and volunteer.

The Clothesline Project originated in Massachusetts in 1990 and now has a presence in more than 40 states and five countries. Colby-Sawyer is the only location in the state to display all New Hampshire t-shirts from 1992-2013. Any woman who has experienced violence at any time is encouraged to come forward and design a shirt. Victims' families and friends are also invited to participate. Materials will be available at the Colby-Sawyer event for anyone wishing to design a shirt.

The Clothesline Project provides a nationwide network of support and information for communities interested in starting their own local projects. Visit www.clotheslineproject.org to learn more.

For more information on the Clothesline Project at Colby-Sawyer, or to volunteer, please contact Ashley Cail at (603) 303-9258 or ashley.cail38@gmail.com.

–Kellie M. Spinney, College Communications


Colby-Sawyer College is a comprehensive college that integrates the liberal arts and sciences with professional preparation. Founded in 1837, Colby-Sawyer is located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. Learn more about the college's vibrant teaching and learning community at www.colby-sawyer.edu.

Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257 (603) 526-3000