The Monument Quilt: Sharing Stories and Support


Madison Ballou

SUPPORTING SURVIVORS: One of Colgate University’s pieces of the Monument Quilt was displayed on the quad in a show of solidarity with survivors of sexual violence.

TW: Mentions of sexual violence and assault.

Haven, one of Colgate University’s sexual violence resource centers, displayed two pieces of the Monument Quilt on the Academic Quad as a show of support for survivors of sexual assault on Tuesday, April 11. The Monument Quilt was a project headed by Baltimore’s FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture team. Its red fabric holds over 3,000 stories written, painted or stitched by survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence and allies. The team hopes the larger quilt creates a space of healing for those affected by this violence.

According to Michele Passonno, assistant director of Haven, the specific quilt blocks that were laid on the Academic Quad were created after a visit to the University’s campus from FORCE in 2016.

Colgate hosted the Monument Quilt in 2016 for a quilt-making workshop. From this event, FORCE gathered about 12 stories, stitched onto three, 8×8 inch quilt blocks. These were the quilts displayed on the quad,” Passonno explained. 

However, these quilts did not find their way back to Colgate until 2022, when FORCE organizer Hannah Brancato came to campus as a featured speaker. 

“We have a few of the Monument Quilt pieces here at Colgate — one is in the Center for Women’s Studies and one is in Haven — that have been installed within our campus spaces since October 2022 to continue amplifying the voices of survivors and acknowledge their experiences on campus,” Passonno said.

Now, the pieces have permanent residence on the Colgate campus and can be viewed indoors within Haven and the Center for Women’s Studies by all members of the community. Even so, members of Haven felt it was important to display the quilt blocks more prominently on campus during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“Displaying the quilt on April 11 was also intentional to align with additional campus events happening that day including ‘Take Back the Night’ and ‘Survivor Speakout,’ as this display was another visible show of support for survivors,” Passonno stated. 

The Monument Quilt has been displayed on a larger scale across 33 cities in the United States and Mexico between June 2014 and October 2019, making it the first national memorial to survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence. 

“After six years of organizing, in the 50th and final display in 2019, the Monument Quilt stretched across the National Mall to spell out ‘You Are Not Alone’ and ‘No Estas Solo.’ Over 50,000 people saw the Monument Quilt in person, and hundreds of thousands engaged with the project online. The thousands of survivors who told their stories in the quilt did so between 2013 and 2019 — during the MeToo era — illustrating the role of art in creating this dramatic shift in consciousness,” Passonno said. 

The campus display was also quite popular amongst students, inspiring many to come view the beautiful pieces and engage with the stories. Sophomore Hana Lowenthal commented on the impact of the exhibit.

“I am happy that my campus community stands up for victims of sexual violence rather than ignoring the issue. This event and the many others around campus help build a community of support, love and awareness — helping to change the narrative about sexual assault,” Lowenthal shared.

Sophomore Benji Pomonis shared similar sentiments.

“Having these quilts displayed on campus — right in the Academic Quad — gives everyone in our community the chance to reflect and offer their support. Sexual assault needs to be spoken about on campus in order to work towards a safer environment, and I feel that this display was an effective way to open up these conversations,” Pomonis said. 

Open conversations, and any other support needed, can be provided by several resources both on and off Colgate’s campus. These include: Haven, The Counseling Center, Student Health Services, the campus Chaplains and Help Restore Hope, which is located in Oneida. More information on these agents of support — and others — can be found on the Colgate University website under the “Sexual Violence Support” tab.