Kneeling on a plank to protect her jeans from the muddy grass, Adriana Austin scrawls a message of hope for survivors of sexual assault. The Solidarity Project offers students at the University of Oregon a chance to do the same.

Adriana Austin shares her message with sexual assault survivors. (Max Thornberry/ Emerald)

“I stopped by because I think there’s not a lot of recognition for sexual assault victims,” Austin, a freshman at UO said. “I thought it was cool because it’s on campus and everyone can see it.”

Students walking down 13th Avenue, between Condon and Chapman halls, will notice a large 8-by-12 foot wall covered in colorful messages. Arise, a community organization based in Eugene started the Solidarity Project last year and it has garnered a positive response.

“We are providing people an opportunity to come and express words of encouragement,” Joseph Washburn, a project facilitator said. “We’re engaging with people in conversation and asking them, ‘If [you] could say one thing to a survivor of sexual assault, what would that be?”

Arise hopes that if students have a chance to write their own message to survivors, more conversation about sexual assault can take place.

“It’s unfortunately a kind of hush-hush thing in our society,” Jeffrey Spadey, another facilitator said. “Even though it’s happening so much, no one wants to talk about it. It’s one of those things everyone wants to talk about but no one knows how.”

The project is helping facilitate a conversation at UO and Washburn said about a dozen other universities want to join the conversation.

Students and faculty who want to participate have until Friday evening to add their messages to the wall.

Free pizza will be handed out during a spoken word session Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m.

Follow Max Thornberry on Twitter @Max_Thornberry .


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