Clothes ranging from pajamas to prom dresses hang in Room 238 in the Elliott Student Union this week.
The clothes are part of the “What Were You Wearing?” Survivor Art Installation presented by the Title IX office at UCM and several other sponsoring organizations. The articles of clothing are accompanied by 21 statements from survivors of sexual assault that explain what they were wearing when a sexual assault occurred.
Brody Glidden, a graduate student with a practicum in the Title IX office, said the statements are from survivors at universities and colleges across the country. He said he worked with the University of Kansas to set up the installation and pick the survivor statements.
“They emailed me their entire installation packet and it was fifty stories that we could choose from, so I chose 21 of the ones that were really a diverse selection – so there’s males, there’s females – cause we know sexual assault is a human thing, not just a certain gender,” Glidden said.
Glidden said 20 organizations sponsored the installation. The sponsoring organizations picked the clothing used in the exhibit based on their designated survivor statements.
“The outfits that are going to be there are not the outfits that obviously were used in the assault, they’re just recreations of it,” Glidden said. “Each organization got a story and so in the email that I sent to them, I just said ‘This is your opportunity as an organization to reflect. What does this story mean? And do the preventative education on it’ and then they gave me the clothes that they felt represented the story.”
Glidden said it’s a silent exhibit.
“Obviously people might go in with other people, but the impact is to really read the stories and connect it back with the saying ‘What were you wearing?” he said. “We’re trying to move away from blaming the victim based off of what they were wearing, and so this entire exhibit is to give survivors the opportunity to really take back what is theirs.”
He said being asked the question “What were you wearing?” can be very intrusive to some survivors. There’s a display explaining why investigators might ask that question at the exhibit along with other educational information.
Glidden said the Title IX office hosted events each week throughout the month of April because April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. He said they want students to know what sexual assault is and the different resources UCM and surrounding community has for survivors.
“The slogan for Sexual Assault Awareness Month this year was ‘Embrace Your Voice,’ “he said.
The “What Were You Wearing?” Survivor Art Installation originated at the University of Arkansas in 2013, according to the installation’s curation guide. The installation was inspired by a poem from Mary Simmerling titled “What I was Wearing.” The poem will be displayed at the exhibit alongside the articles of clothing and survivor statements.
The exhibit will be on campus from April 20-25 in Union Room 238 and is open to the public during the Union’s normal business hours. The next event during Sexual Assault Awareness Month is the Out of Darkness Walk Saturday, April 21. The walk begins at 11 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m.
For more information regarding the exhibit or Title IX, contact Brody Glidden at email@example.com.