On the first day of class, August 31st, at approximately 6:45 PM, Public Safety received a call reporting a vandalism and theft from the Clothesline Project’s supplies in Tarble. The Clothesline Project is an organization that fights and raises awareness about sexual violence and provides a way for those affected by violence to reflect on their experiences. It gets its name from its main project: anonymous survivors or supporters of survivors decorate T-shirts based on their experiences, which are then hung on a clothesline on the walk in front of Parrish Hall.
The Project had stored its art supplies, new T-shirts, and decorated T-shirts in carefully-packed boxes in a hidden location in Tarble on August 28th, around midnight. Ally Grein ’10, who went to retrieve supplies on the evening of the 31st, was the first one on the scene and described the supplies as “ransacked” – all of the supplies had been taken, including markers, paint cans, and eighteen blank red and white T-shirts. No decorated T-shirts were missing, but instead had been strewn about the floor and the balcony of Upper Tarble. The cans of puff paint had been sprayed off of the edge of the balcony of Upper Tarble, on the path leading to the handicapped entrance below. Thorough inventories taken by a member of the Clothesline Project before and after the vandalism/theft indicate approximately $150 worth of supplies to have been stolen. Afterwards, the T-shirts were secured and locked in a different area.
Despite the crime, the Clothesline Project will begin its activities on time this weekend. The Dean’s Office provided additional funding to replace the supplies that had been lost. Members of the Clothesline Project and Karen Henry, ’87, Assistant Dean and Education Advisor, all stated that the damage done was primarily in the disrespect of the decorated T-shirts, which had been made by survivors of sexual abuse at Swarthmore for the past five years. Ally Grein said, “These people had treated… their most traumatic experiences to be stepped on and rained on.”
Tarble, like many campus buildings, is an unlocked and open building, which would have permitted access to anyone between midnight, August 28th and 6:45 PM, August 31st. There are no surveillance cameras in Tarble aside from the basement, where SCCS materials are kept. Furthermore, since the majority of students had only just arrived on campus during the likely times of the incident, student traffic in and around Tarble was also at a minimum. Though there was also an incident at the Intercultural Center, there is no evidence to suggest a connection between the two. Due to the lack of evidence and the random nature of the crime, Owen Redgrave, the Director of Public Safety, has stated that it is unlikely that there will be any leads.
Correction: A previous version of this story indicated that the Clothesline Project’s mission was to fight violence against women. It has been corrected to accurately reflect the fact that Swarthmore’s Project has no affiliation to the national organization by the same name and is about supporting survivors of all genders.