By Catherine Connor
Every fall, students walk by a string of t-shirts hung out on a clothesline in front of the University Center. Each of these t-shirts are strung with messages from victims of domestic violence for a week. I interviewed the new director of the Women’s Center, Michelle L. Clonch, to find out reason for the shirts.
Catherine Conner: What is the purpose of the Clothesline Project at WCU?
Michelle L. Clonch: Well, it is a domestic violence awareness campaign all over the nation, not just at universities. Actually, it originally started as a project to raise awareness about domestic violence to the community and it eventually spread to universities.
CC: Is that because college students are also typically victims of domestic violence?
MC: Yes, a large percentage of college students are victims.
CC: What exactly is domestic violence?
MC: It can be a lot of things, but typically it is violence that occurs in or around a home. That violence can be rape, abuse, sexual violence, or relationship violence. College students typically experience relationship violence as most college students aren’t married or living in homes yet.
CC: How many shirts were strung out on the lawn this year and who wrote on them?
MC: There were 55 new shirts among a core group of shirts that we keep and bring out on the lawn every year. The new shirts were made by students, members of REACH, and other people in the community.
CC: Was it just women that wrote on these shirts?
MC: No. Both men and women can be victims of domestic violence.
CC: How long has this project been going on at WCU?
MC: The earliest records go back to 2002, so it has been around for approximately six years.
CC: I’ve heard that half of this project is also about the volunteers. How many people donated their time to the project this year?
MC: Approximately 125 workers helped out and completed about 145 hours total during the Clothesline Project.
CC: How can students get involved in the future?
MC: Well, our next event will be Love Your Body Week from October 20-24. Students can look forward to activities from the new Recreation and Fitness Center, a women health issues talk, events from CLAW, information sessions on health from a professional nutritionist, counseling services, and programs from the Women’s Center. We’ll have more information on dates and times soon.
New Director of the
Michelle Clonch joined WCU from Orlando, Florida this fall after completing two bachelors and two masters degrees. She completed a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Liberal Studies (with concentrations in Humanities and Art History) at the University of Central Florida. She earned her master’s degrees in Mental Health Counseling and Depth Psychology at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in California.
Currently, Michelle is working towards earning her doctorate in Depth Psychology from the Pacific Graduate Institute. At WCU, she helps run the Women’s Center which “helps her with research, development, volunteer work, and women’s issues as related to psychology.” She enjoys working at WCU and uses her spare time to become familiar with the culture, restaurants and art activities in the region. The University Center Staff is very excited to have Michelle join them.