By Kate Rogers, Staff Writer
USM’s Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity (CSGD) and the Multicultural Student Affairs center hosted an all-gender all-culture free clothing swap in Woodbury on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Starting with hundreds of pounds of clothing and ending up with less than half, the swap was a huge success, according to event organizer Kaitlin O’Connor.
The clothing swap was O’Connor’s independent project for the CSGD. Both the CSGD and the Multicultural center give students who either have work study or are graduate assistants the opportunity to put on an event of their choosing. For example, another student hosted an UNO game night on Wednesday.
O’Connor had the idea for the clothing swap immediately, she said. Inspired by a free book swap she had been a part of in Austin, TX, she wanted to apply the same idea to things that people really need. For a while she collected clothing herself from clothing dumpsters that she was aware of, until she heard that the Casco Bay High School was having a clothing sale. They agreed to donate everything they didn’t sell, and greatly contributed to the supply.
On the day of the event, O’Connor said that the other members of the CSGD and the Multicultural Center were a big help. They helped her bring in the clothes, organize them, and provided input which helped the event evolve as it was happening. As the clothing spread out on the tables dwindled, the team brought out more to fill the gaps. While some people came empty handed, others showed up with several bags full of clothes to swap.
Some students had asked if they could they come in and ‘steal’ something without offering anything in return, O’Connor said. “You’re not stealing, it’s freely given,” she said in response. O’Connor added that the purpose of the event was less a barter system, and more an invitation for people to bring what they didn’t have and contribute to the community.
When asked why she didn’t charge for the clothing, O’Connor said that it never even occurred to her. “I firmly believe that we can sustain ourselves with cooperation and community,” she stated. “We can share what we don’t need and support ourselves.”
Since the event had such a positive reaction and was such a success, the CSGD plans to hold another swap in November. If students are interested in getting involved with either the CSGD or the Multicultural center, both offices are located in the Woodbury Campus Center.