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Student fashion show models a deeper purpose

There was a pink tank top with the word “bad” sprawled across the front underneath a photo of an SUV on fire.

The T-shirt was meant to represent the 80 percent of USF students surveyed who do not support acts of violence against property to promote environmental causes – known as “monkey-wrenching.”

That was just one example of apparel that students modeled in the “Sustainability, Fanaticism & Fashion at USF!” show at the Marshall Student Center on Saturday.

It was Andrea Mettraux’s favorite.

“I am very pro-environment,” said Mettraux, a junior majoring in advertising. “And I like what they’re doing with the organic cotton. I think it’s a good thing to be associated with USF.”

All of the 30 T-shirts, collared shirts, tank tops, bags, jackets and buttons modeled by students were based on a survey measuring students’ views on environmental sustainability and the degree of fanaticism.

USF graduate student Ellen Mueller, with the help of team members, designed the items in just three weeks with funds from a $5,000 research grant.

Another shirt with the words “Irrepar-a-Bull” printed across a USF logo stood for the 61 percent of students who believe humans have already caused irreparable damage to the Earth as a whole, said Mueller, who is studying studio art.

“We had a nice turnout – people laughed,” she said. “There was a lot of dry humor involved, so I’m glad they caught the subtleties.”

Mueller and four other students also used the grant to conduct the survey. Jeffrey Hinzmann studied author Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism as it relates to sustainability and fanaticism.

“(Objectivists are) famously fanatical about beliefs they feel to be wrong … They have a belief system that is namely anti-sustainability, at least in terms of the environment,” Hinzmann said.

A shirt displayed at the event fit the study. It had a figure kissing a tree covered by a circle with a line slashed through it, much like a no-smoking sign.

One sweatshirt featured a picture of Mahatma Gandhi and the words “I am comfortable with civil disobedience” to represent the 37 percent of USF students who agreed with civil disobedience when it came to protecting the environment.

“It was funny and somewhat informative,” said Andrew Nigon, a graduate student in fine arts. “Some of the statistics were pretty interesting. I think it was an interesting way to represent them.”

Pieces from the event are for sale online at zazzle.com/emueller9. They range from $1.50 buttons to $60 jackets.

Mueller said proceeds will be used to create a worm composting pile near the Fine Arts building.