MTSU clothing exhibit combats ‘victim blaming’ in sexual assault


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Although MTSU senior Katherine Witcher hasn’t experienced sexual assault, the issue has hit close to home a few times.

“People who are really close to me have gone through sexual assault, so seeing the displays out there is really reassuring that the university cares,” Witcher said.

Witcher was referring to MTSU’s campus exhibit dubbed “What Were You Wearing?”, which recreated outfits from the stories of sexual assault survivors during the time of their assault.

Funded by the MTSU Student Government Association and the Campus Nonviolence Committee, the inaugural museum-styled exhibit sought to stop victim blaming based on what a person chooses to wear.

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According to one of the exhibit sponsors, MTSU Health Promotion, the 50 or so sexual assault stories displayed around campus April 2-6 were from exhibit cultivators, University of Arkansas and University of Kansas, not MTSU students.

But MTSU students are able to anonymously submit their stories of sexual assault via text message or through paper submissions in manila envelopes through April in observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

MTSU Health Promotion intern Neci Jones encourages students to understand that sexual assault can happen to anyone despite what they’re wearing.

“Whether you’re wearing a bikini or a snowsuit it can happen to you, so be aware of your surroundings,” Jones said.

The exhibit was displayed in the Business and Aerospace Building, Campus Recreation Center lobby, Walker Library and Kirksey Old Main.

Jones noted the weeklong showcase was a call-to-action encouraging students to feel comfortable asking for professional help from counseling services on campus.

“We understand and we’re here for support … we want people to know how much we care,” she said.

Lisa Schrader, director of health promotion, was inspired to use this presentation to shut down stereotypes of sexual assault.

“By showing that there is no theme to the clothing worn by victims, we hope that we can remove that barrier to disclosure and in general create more support for survivors who share their stories,” Schrader said.

Sponsoring organizations include Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Omicron Pi, Blue Raider Athletics, the Campus Recreation Center, the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, College Panhellenic, MTSU Counseling Services, MTSU Health Education Research Organization, MTSU Student Health Services, MTSU Housing and Residential Life, the Office of International Affairs, the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students, Kappa Delta, MTSU Ladies for Change, MT 316, the MTSU chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers, the MTSU chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success and the MTSU Student Government Association.

MTSU Health Promotion welcomes the opportunity to assist students, student groups, faculty and staff members with their health programming needs.

For more information, visit MTSU’s main counseling center is located at the Keathley University Center, Room 326-S. For more information on MTSU’s counseling services, call 615-898-2670 or visit