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For Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April)

STEP 1: Create A Team

Before bringing the What Was I Wearing exhibit to campus, it is important to create a team of students who are dedicated to bringing the project to life. Include any faculty and/or staff members who you think would also like to be involved in the project. Examples of people to reach out to include: 


  • Professors 

  • Campus Safety Staff

  • Title IX Coordinators

  • Student/Resident Life Staff

  • Counselors

  • Student Council         

STEP 2: SECURE Permission

The next step would be to ask your school if they will allow you to put on this exhibit. Each school has a different set of guidelines for events—connect with your school's point person or department to gain permission.

STEP 3: Connect With Students (Virtual Exhibit)

Once you have both a team and permission to host the event, choose whether you would like to host an in-person exhibit in addition to a virtual exhibit. Due to COVID-19, is recommended that all participating schools conduct a virtual exhibit so that the greater community (relatives of students, prospective students, community members, staff/faculty, etc.) can experience the exhibit as well. 

Before you begin creating your website, it is important to first reach out and engage student interest. One way to bring awareness to your project is by reaching out to the department heads of the various majors offered at your school. You can draft an email detailing your project to them and ask them to send that email to their students. Here is an example email that you can use:

Good afternoon ____,

I was wondering if you would be willing to send the message listed below to the students in your department about a sexual assault awareness project our school is hosting in April. 

Thank you for your help!

All the best, 



Good afternoon! 

I hope this email finds you all well. My name is ___ and I am an *insert your school year* here at *your university name here* studying _____. I wanted to connect with you today to talk about a sexual assault awareness project that our school is hosting called "What Was I Wearing?".


This will be a virtual art exhibit (in the form of a website) comprised of photos of recreated outfits that victims/survivors of sexual assault wore when they were assaulted. The heart behind the exhibit is to illuminate that what a person was wearing does not justify sexual assault, nor does it put the blame on the survivor. What was worn is NOT, in fact, the problem here. 

Next to the outfit will be a short statement from the victim/survivor detailing anything they want to share about their story. Through our project, we will be highlighting student voices and stories from our campus who have been sexually assaulted. The intention is to give survivors a chance to take back that power that was stolen from them by giving them a voice to speak up and be heard. It. Is. Not. Their. Fault.

We would like to extend this message to the greater community as well, by offering a call to action. On our website will be a link to donate to Sacred Beginnings, an organization that fights against sexual exploitation in West Michigan. Sacred Beginnings is currently in the process of opening a drop-in center for trafficked individuals (sex, labor, and organ trafficking). We are going to help them raise the funds to open the drop-in center. We want to send the message that we are taking a stand. The exhibit will show the reality and prevalence of sexual assault and exploitation; helping to fund a drop-in center to fight against that is our call to action. It is time to rise up against this darkness in our city.

If you would like to share your own story in this exhibit, please follow the link to the Google Form. We will not ask you any identifying questions in order to respect your privacy. The following questions will be asked: 

1) Please upload a photo of either your own clothing or a digital collage of the clothing worn.

2) What would you like to share with us?

3) What is the best way someone could have supported you during this time?

Our exhibit will take place during the month of April, which is sexual assault awareness month. 

Thank you so much for your support!


At the end of this day, the world will either be a more or less kind, compassionate, and loving place because of your presence. YOUR MOVE."

~John Pavlovitz


All the best, 

*insert your name here*

After you receive all of the virtual submissions (these should be submitted by mid-March in order to create the virtual exhibit in April), you can begin creating your virtual exhibit.  


How to construct a virtual exhibit

Part 1: Choose a platform to display your exhibit. Here are a few free create-your-own website sites: 

Part 2: Look at existing What Was I Wearing exhibits for inspiration for your own site. Here are a few examples: 


Part 3: Get creative! Use your own artistic ideas to create a website that represents voices and ideas from your own school. If you do not consider yourself tech-savvy, here are a few people on your campus you could reach out to to help: 

  • Computer Science students/professors

  • Graphic Design students/professors

  • IT Department staff

Part 4: Recommendations for what to include in a virtual exhibit:

  • "About" section detailing the mission of the project, including connection to Sacred Beginnings 

  • Photos or descriptions of the clothing along with messages from the survivors (i.e. their story, something they learned, how they wish people supported them)

  • A link to donate to Sacred Beginnings' campaign to open the drop-in center

STEP 4: In-Person Exhibits

Another way to showcase the voices of survivors is to host an in-person exhibit. Here are a few recommendations in order to make this happen: 


  • Abide by the COVID-19 guidelines in your area to best prevent the spread

  • Require masks to enter the exhibit

  • Place hand sanitizer bottles at the entrance of the exhibit 

  • Hold exhibit in a building that would allow for social distancing

  • Place dots on the ground that are spaced 6 feet apart

  • Have students register for a time to enter the exhibit (i.e. only allow a certain number of students to enter at a time. They would come in at 7:00 pm and then the next group would come at 7:30 pm. Allow time between groups to sanitize). A good website to use would be SignUpGenius.

Organization Logistics: 

Part 1: Find a location on campus that would house the exhibit. This would likely have to be in a larger space due to social distancing regulations. Once you have chosen a location, you should connect with your school to recieve permission to use this space. How long the exhibit runs is up to your school, although many have chosen to host the exhibit for the month of April. 

Part 2: Talk with your team about where to set up drop off locations for the submitted. This would have to be in a confidential space to maintain anonymity. 

Part 3: Email department heads to then email students. This email would look similiar to the one above regarding virtual exhibits. The only difference would be in the questions. The email would also include the drop off location and instructions. We recommend having the students put the clothing in a tied plastic bag with their code name on the outside. All outfits would be collected by mid-March and the stories would be printed off and placed next to the outfit. The answer to the third question about support would be in a different location. We recommend having a wall of notecards with the answers to this question so that friends of sexual assault survivors know how to best support survivors.

If you would like to share your own story in this exhibit, please follow the link to the Google Form. We will not ask you any identifying questions in order to respect your privacy. The following questions will be asked: 

  1. What is a code name we can use for you so that we can match your story with your clothing?

  2. What would you like to share with us?

  3. What is the best way someone could have supported you during this time?

Recommendations for Event Set-Up: 

  • Place clothing on mannequins. A few ways to get mannequins include reaching out to clothing stores and asking if they have any extra that you could borrow for the event. Malls typically send out monthly messages to all of the stores; if you reach out to malls, they could potentially ask for mannequin donations in their newsletters. 

  • Put clothing on hangars and hang them around the room. Many stores have extra hangars that they might be willing to donate. You could also host a hangar drive at your school and sanitize them before using them. 

  • Put clothing in frames and hang them on the walls

  • Pin clothes to a clothesline and hang the clothesline across the room

STEP 5: AdvertisE

A few recommendations on how to advertise include: 

  • Posting on social media (school accounts, student org accounts, and personal accounts)

  • Having an article written about the project in the student newspaper

  • Putting up posters around campus

  • Word of mouth

  • Asking RAs and RDs to send information to dorm floors

  • Asking professors to speak to their classes about the project

  • Contact your directors of student engagement to send out an email      

STEP 6: Post-Exhibit

A future ambition with this project is to combine all of the in-person exhibits from each school to create one large exhibit that would be displayed in an art museum. We are currently in the process of discussing this idea with art museums and ask that each school holds onto the clothing and the stories from their exhibit in the event that we recieve permission to create one large exhibit to bring to the public.

Questions? Contact us

Katie Papke

Thanks for submitting!

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