Communication students and CBL hosted Violence Free Minnesota event
Amy Zsohar, PhD, communication studies faculty, and students in her Interpersonal Communication class partnered with Community-Based Learning (CBL) to host the Violence Free Minnesota Clothesline Project exhibit in mid-February in the College Center Lounge on the Inver Hills Community College campus in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.
Violence Free Minnesota curates the annual Clothesline Project, a visual memorial to Minnesota’s victims of intimate partner homicide. The project consists of a unique shirt for each victim designed by a volunteer artist. While many of the artists did not know the victim they honored with a shirt, some are designed by family members and friends in honor of their loved ones. The shirts are then hung on a clothesline and displayed in a public location.
“Bringing the Clothesline Project to campus offers a way to open conversation about gender-based violence on campus,” Amy Zsohar said. “As my Interpersonal Communication class continues to grow as communicators, being able to discuss an emotionally-laden topic like gender-based violence challenges the students to be more effective listeners and kinder communicators while feeling more able to handle these types of topics. If you can communicate about a topic that is tough like gender-based violence, you can communicate in almost any setting.”
Shannon Williams serves as community-based learning coordinator at Inver Hills. She worked with Amy and her students in partnership with Violence Free Minnesota to introduce the annual exhibit to the college community.
“I want to thank and recognize Violence Free Minnesota for loaning the Clothesline Project for us to display,” Shannon said. “It’s important to raise awareness and humanize the stories of domestic violence in Minnesota that we otherwise just hear about in the news. The heart of community-based learning is forming interpersonal connections within and across communities, and it was an honor to lift up the stories of our community members in this way.”
Student perspective: Ashley Pederson
“When I first learned what the Clothesline Project was and that we would be working it for Dr. Z’s communication class in the College Center, it brought many different emotions with it. Some feelings of anger, angst, sadness, and complete heartbreak.
“I had apprehension going into this as I wasn’t sure what would come up with students, or anyone who happened to stop by and see the memorial for victims of intimate partner homicide.
“There were 21 stories shared on the wall of women, and some children, who lost their lives to this senseless act of violence. There was one story in particular that was not shared in this memorial. A gentleman stopped by and read each story. After I said hi to him and asked how he was, he opened up to me and shared his personal story with me.
“Although I couldn’t change the outcome of what happened in his life’s story, I could hold space for him, be someone he could open up to, and listen to what he had to say. I could take just a little of the burden off of him that I’m sure he carries around.
“I felt honored that he would share such details with me and felt that I was someone he could open up to. When we are able to bring these things to the light, we can start to find some healing in the process. Every time we open up to someone and share our story, it holds that much less power over us. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to experience this project.”
Nursing Major on BSN Track
Inver Hills Community College