KSU men ‘walk a mile in her shoes’

Elizabeth Randolph

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, an annual national event that brings awareness to sexual violence, was held at Kent State on Tuesday. Men were encouraged to wear high heels and walk along the Esplanade from the Kiva to the Esplanade extension.

The event was held and hosted by the Kent State’s Women’s Center and other programs that support awareness of issues such as sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking. Kent State’s sexual assault response coordinator Jennifer O’Connell said the event brings awareness to the role men play in sexual violence.

“Sexual violence isn’t something that happens to Kent State; it happens all over the world,” O’Connell said. “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes brings men into the conversation and brings awareness to the issue. For one mile, they are literally walking in women’s shoes and representing how women feel when they’re walking and are nervous that someone is following them or trying to attack them.”

In addition to the walk, the event had games where the men participated in hula-hoop competitions and runway walks in their heels for prizes. Guest speakers were also in attendance, including current Undergraduate Student Government Executive Director Amish Patel, Executive Director-Elect Marvin Logan Jr. and women’s basketball Coach Danielle O’Banion.

Patel, a senior communications major, spoke to the audience about the importance of bringing a topic like sexual assault to the forefront.

“This program has grown significantly in the last couple of years,” Patel said. “I’m very, very happy to be a part of it and watching this community grow and actually bring this dialogue up. This is an issue that just doesn’t disappear, and we can’t just forget about it.”

Logan, a senior Pan-African studies major, discussed in his speech how students can play an active role in preventing sexual assaults on campus.

“The university offers a lot of safe-space training that is available to students,” Logan said. “You can also take opportunities to be a [good] Samaritan by creating a buddy system and always having a sober friend when you go out. These are little things that will ensure that our community will be safe.”

Sophomore speech pathology major Haille O’Neal said she attended Walk a Mile in Her Shoes because the event held personal meaning.

“I have a friend from a different college that was sexually assaulted,” O’Neal said. “I’m walking for her and supporting a great cause.”

O’Connell said she hopes the Kent State community will continue to support events like Walk a Mile in Her Shoes to put an end to sexual violence.

“Together, we can speak out to bring a real change in our community and a stop to violence,” O’Connell said. “Each of us has a role to play in making that change. The time is now to step in to make sure your friends are safe and to listen, believe and offer support.”

Contact Elizabeth Randolph at [email protected].