Awareness Day event creates poignant display of abuse

The Clothesline Project (Joseph Espiritu)

Keith Cousins

On April 14, Saddleback College Associated Student Government held an Awareness Day to increase students’ knowledge of various domestic and global issues, ranging from genocide in Darfur to domestic rape and violence.

One of the events, The Clothesline Project, took place in the quad, where many Saddleback students who’ve been affected by abuse wrote a phrase relating their personal stories on T-shirts.

Many students took time out of their busy days to stop and read the shirts that their fellow students had created.

“It caught my eye. [The stories] were very touching and it makes me sorry people have to go through things like this,” said Jacob Schack, 19, undecided.

One shirt expressed the amount of courage it takes to tell your story in such a public manner.

“The worst part about this display is that for every shirt you see, there are 10 women who could have made one, but [were] too ashamed,” said one shirt.

Awareness Day also featured a panel discussion organized by Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). This organization’s goal is to gain equal civil rights for lesbian and gay individuals.

Three representatives from PFLAG led the panel, highlighting in particular the progress being made to toward equal rights.

“The more we talk, the less we are hiding in the closet; people don’t fear what they know,” said Robert, a spokesperson for PFLAG. “Things are changing, but not as fast as they should.”

Another spokesperson, Denny, took a different approach when discussing the advances made by the movement.

Addressing the audience, Denny asked them to raise their hands if they knew someone who is gay or lesbian: the majority of the crowd raised its hands.

“That is progress,” Denny said, motioning to the crowd.

Students in attendance benefited from seeing a human face and their experiences dealing with their plight for equal rights.

“Mostly I hear a lot in the media, but this [panel] provided a human experience and I gained extra perspective,” said Nicholas Ruiz, 21, journalism.

One Saddleback College student has made it his mission to raise awareness about the genocide in Darfur.

After viewing a news clip about what was occurring in Sudan, Ryan Hoyt, 20, literature, decided to educate himself on the matter and get involved. After seeing such documentaries as “The Devil Came on Horseback,” and joining organizations like Save Darfur and HOPE Campaign, Hoyt was motivated to put together a film viewing on-campus.

“I had to get through the school’s red tape, but I got through and now I am showing the documentary,” Hoyt said. “It fell in perfectly with Awareness Week.”

Hoyt said that events such as this are “great for the people, but it’s not going to end the genocide, and we need to get creative.”

Awareness Day created the opportunity for students to get educated and involved with many of the issues in our world.

“Spread the word,” Hoyt said. “Awareness is only the first step. We have a lot of support, but much more is needed.”

Expressions of incestuous rape of one’s own child. (Joseph Espiritu)

Unacceptance of one’s sexual preference by a parent can be devastating. (Joseph Espiritu)

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