SAGE clothing swap contributes to a campus safe space

By Miranda Parrish

Elm Staff Writer

Supporting All Gender Experiences (SAGE) hosted a clothing swap for their first individual event on campus this year from Monday, Nov. 28 to Friday, Dec. 2.

This event was a creative effort from the club to connect with the Washington College community and emphasize the importance of sustainability and kindness across the campus.

Members of SAGE tabled in Hodson Hall Commons to collect clothes from students. On Monday collection lasted from 1 to 3 p.m. and on Tuesday it ran from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday’s collection time started at 5 p.m. and ended at 7 p.m. For students unable to make these times, there was a box in Hodson Hall Commons that they could place clothes and accessories in.

SAGE President sophomore Evan Merk joined SAGE in his freshman year when the club went inactive. He reached out to the existing staff last year and agreed to take over to ensure the club continued.

“I love SAGE dearly,” Merk said. “Even in a state of inactivity last year, just knowing it existed made me feel safer on campus. SAGE is an important group. Transgender people on campus need a space to know that they’re seen, heard, supported, and protected, both by each other and allies. I’m hoping it continues to grow and create more opportunities for people on campus.”

SAGE Vice President sophomore Farren Hauer joined for a similar reason.

“I decided to join SAGE because I’m interested in helping build a community for trans students and also to foster a culture of acceptance for trans people at WC,” Hauer said. “I hope that our club can be a supportive and accepting space for all.”

By providing a safe space on campus, everyone is able to feel more welcome and are able to come together on a popular past time – shopping – but in a sustainable way.

According to SAGE Secretary sophomore Noelle Punte, the motivation behind the drive was related to the trans experience in relation to clothing.

“The main idea behind it was for trans people to donate things from their wardrobe that they no longer wear after coming out, or to have a chance to get some gender-affirming clothing,” Punte said. “But the clothing drive is open to everyone.”

Because of this motivation, even if no students had no clothing to donate, they were still allowed to stop by and pick up new clothing.

The lack of local options for buying and thrifting clothing for an affordable price also contributed to the idea.

According to Merk, having a clothing swap in a common campus space makes it easy for students to “give something old” while obtaining “something new.”

“We chose a clothing swap because it would allow people to select items that help them express themselves and their identities with no money needed,” Hauer said. “It’s also an event that’s super easy to participate in for anyone who’s interested in SAGE. Clothing swaps are great for sustainability, too, because unwanted items will get reused instead of thrown away.”

According to the SAGE executive board, since everyone expresses themselves in their own ways, this event also promotes individuality, self-discovery, and being confident in one’s own skin.

All the extra clothes from the clothing drive will be donated. According to Merk and Hauer, SAGE hopes to have more events on campus next semester, in order to continue promoting support and a safe space across campus.

Photo by Heather Fabritze

Photo Caption: Outside of swap times, students placed clothing items and accessories in a box in Hodson Hall.

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