On April 14, 2022 the “What Were You Wearing” installation was held at Pebble Hill in honor of sexual assault awareness month. Regan Moss, senior in microbiology, and Ren Carroll, junior in journalism, organized the event and opened it for the public to view.
“The event in its essence is to address common myths in our culture and social narratives that victims/survivors somehow have been responsible for their victimization because of the things they were wearing," Carroll said. "It is an array of clothing from people that it either models or it was the actual clothing they were wearing at the time of their assault. We will also have art pieces such as paintings and poetry."
Moss and Carroll had the goal of not only spreading awareness of the many different experiences of power-based violence but also creating a safe and understanding community.
The exhibits included clothing, paintings and poems that were donated and created by survivors of sexual assault.
Moss and Carroll were inspired not only by their passions but also by the environment on campus that has affected many Auburn students.
“We love people. And we know a lot of people who have experienced things and have not had a platform to process that," Carroll said. "It really lit a fire under our butts after the things that happened that caused the Toomer's protests. The campus environment last year has been really tough and people have had to live in fight or flight."
This event serves to encapsulate the survivor's range of experiences and how each individual's experience is unique to them. It also serves to not monopolize the conversation but to create space for each person to tell their story in their own way.
Sign up for our newsletter
Get The Plainsman straight to your inbox.
“This is not about us trying to paint over this or package it in a way that is acceptable," Carroll said. "We like to, in our society, try to make everything really good, and happy, and pretty. This is not supposed to be pretty. We want people to be uncomfortable. This is supposed to enact change. That's essentially why we are doing it — to enact change."
The event began on Thursday, April 14 at 8 a.m. The exhibits were open to the public until 8 p.m. and beginning at 6 p.m., Melissa Sawer, senior staff clinician at Auburn University Student Counseling and Psycholoical Services, spoke as the guest speaker.
“One of the big things that I will speak to tonight is to invite the participants to hold the tension between seeing the pieces in the installations and perhaps seeing their own experiences reflected back to them," Sawyer said. "While also recognizing that each piece represents a unique survivor with unique experiences, needs, and wants. And hopefully, I will speak to creating a more inclusive and trauma-informed movement to support survivors in our community."
After Sawyer came to speak there was a candle vigil to show support and solidarity among the guests.
The event closed with a meditation for the guests to process what they have experienced at the event and any emotions that came with it. After the meditation Carroll and Moss came to give a few closing statements to send the guests off with a new perspective.
“When you are able to empathize with a certain pain and you have to acknowledge and see other people who have been through those things you understand how bad their suffering or how bad they have hurt and it hits different,” Carroll said. “Ultimately the end goal of this event was to help people. If it makes one person feel understood or feel like they have a platform, if it makes one person gain a perspective or insight that they didn't have before, if it moves even one person to change it would all be worth it."
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.Support The Plainsman