Local women’s groups and campus organizations are teaming up during March, the nationally recognized Women’s Month, to raise awareness of violence against women.

The Clothesline Project

The Clothesline Project is a visual representation of the effect of violence against women and the impact it has on society. The Montgomery County chapter of the National Organization for Women started the project locally in 1994.

Victims of violence as well as their friends and family are invited to create a shirt. “The shirts can have messages and illustrations to demonstrate the pain and suffering of survivors of violence,” said Susan Anderson, senior instructor in mathematics in the College of Science and faculty advisor for Womanspace, the student organization that coordinates the annual Clothesline Project and Take Back the Night rally and march. 

“The creation of the shirts can help with the healing process. We then display all of the shirts on a clothesline as a public display, showing the impact of violence against women but also the solidarity of survivors.”

The Women’s Center at Virginia Tech will provide a quiet, confidential environment to create a shirt anytime between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday, March 24 to Friday, March 28. Supplies are provided free of charge.

Shirts are color-coded: white for women who have died from violence; yellow or beige for women who have been battered or assaulted; red, pink, or orange for those raped or sexually assaulted; blue or green for survivors of incest of child abuse; purple or lavender for women attacked because of their sexual orientation; and black for women handicapped by violence.

The clothesline display will be on the Drillfield at Virginia Tech from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 25 or 26. The rain location will be Squires Student Center.

Local sponsors include Montgomery County NOW, Womanspace, the Women's Center at Virginia Tech, and the Women's Resource Center of the New River Valley.

Take Back the Night Rally and March

The 25th annual Take Back the Night Rally and March will be held Thursday, March 27. Participants are asked to assemble at the outdoor stage on Henderson Lawn at Virginia Tech, next to College Avenue in downtown Blacksburg, 6:30-7 p.m. The rally starts at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a march through campus and downtown Blacksburg, returning to Henderson Lawn for a closing celebration.

The rain location is Old Dominion Ballroom in Squires Student Center. The march route is accessible to people with disabilities.

“The march aims to call attention to violence against women and how that violence affects our friends, family, and community members individually, but also the community as a whole,” Anderson said. “Our goal is for our community to take action to change our society so women do not have to fear being out alone at night.”

Womanspace encourages women, men, and children from Virginia Tech and the surrounding community to participate in the march. Participants are encouraged to wear a purple ribbon tied with a knot for every friend or family member who has been sexually assaulted. Purple ribbons will be available at information tables at the event or ahead of time during the week at the Women’s Center.

Sponsoring organizations include AdvanceVT, Coalition for Justice, Cook Counseling Center, Cranwell International Center, Help Save the Next Girl, League of Women Voters of Montgomery County, Montgomery County NOW, Multicultural Programs and Services, Office for Diversity and Inclusion, Office of the Dean of Students, Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, Raft Crisis Hotline, Sexual Assault and Violence Education by Students (SAVES), Sexual Violence Prevention Council, Virginia Tech Interfaith Council, Wesley Foundation at Virginia Tech, Womanspace, Women's and Gender Studies Program, Women's Center at Virginia Tech, Women's Month 2014 Advisory Committee, Women's Resource Center of the New River Valley, and the YMCA.