Walk A Mile raises awareness about sexual assault

Sierra Allen

Kent State hosted its annual Walk a Mile in Their Shoes tonight, in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The purpose of Walk a Mile in Their Shoes is to create a united movement where everyone joins together by marching a mile in another’s shoes to cause awareness and help end sexualized violence. In this particular walk, men are asked to wear heels as a playful opportunity to acknowledge the serious matter.

The university has held the walk for more than five years and partners with Greek fraternities and sororities, athletes, students, faculty and other organizations.

Frank Baird, the creator of Walk a Mile in Her Shoes began the event in 2001, when he gathered a small group of men to walk around in the park. Over the years, it has grown into a world-wide movement involving everyone. Since it is an international movement, many individual walks are renamed Walk a Mile in Their Shoes, to degenderize the cause.

“We changed the name last year to represent all inclusive language because women aren’t the only ones wearing high heels and women also aren’t the only ones who are victims to power-based personal violence,” said Alicia Robinson, Program Coordinator for The Women’s Center and SRVSS office. “We thought it was very important for us to say ‘their’ shoes because a woman or male can be a victim.”

Shane Hynes, a sophomore sports administration major and football player is impacted heavily by the event.

“A lot of us are football players and voluntarily signed up for it. I think it’s good that a lot of us want to be out here, it’s not a big force and we actually want to take part in this event,” said Hynes. “It shows a lot about our team and our university. “

Even though Walk a Mile in Their Shoes is aimed at bringing awareness, some think otherwise and feel as if men walking in heels are taking the cause lightly and playfully, which isn’t always the case. 

“When you’re a man walking in heels across campus, you feel unsafe, you feel unstable, you don’t know if you’re going to fall, you don’t know if you’re going to get hurt. You just are kind of unsure for that time, and those are some of the same characteristics that survivors have to go through when something happens. It really helps them to put things into perspective,” said Robinson, which she credits Jennifer O’Connell, the director of the SRVSS office for helping her understand.

Steven Antalvari, director for university advising jokingly said he cheated and practiced in his heels all weekend, but still understands the importance of the event.

“It is important because every man needs to understand what women go through when they’re sexually assaulted and the different issues they come across on college campuses,” said Antalvari.

To help the men become comfortable in their heels, games were played and a runway walk contest was held during check-in before the welcoming and keynote speaker. Following the walk, rewards, Flashperks and door prizes were given. Despite the inclement weather, students and faculty did not fail to show their support, as they united to bring awareness for sexual assault month and show where they stand.

Sierra is a Student Life reporter for The Kent Stater, contact her at [email protected].