Men from NMU and the community once again donned high heels and embellished versions of their own shoes during the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event to raise awareness of sexual assault.
The event was part of a series which is organized by the National Sexual Violence Research Center to encourage community involvement in addressing the problem. The event was held on April 7 at 6 p.m., beginning with a brief presentation in the Ontario Room of the University Center.
Health promotion specialist, Lenny Shible of NMU’s Health Promotion Office (HPO), said that the walk is one of several sexual assault awareness events on campus, including last month’s “Hear Us Roar” and Josh Phillips’ “1800 Miles: Striving to End Sexual Violence One Step at a Time” presentation, which served as a kickoff to Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
“All of these things are part of an ongoing effort to make sure (sexual assault) doesn’t go on the back burner,” Shible said.
Vigilance is important, Shible said, in regard to promoting awareness of the year-round problem of sexual assault.
“Any day is a good day to have a conversation about sexual assault,” Shible said.
The event doubled as a fundraiser for the Marquette Women’s Center, as men who chose to walk were encouraged to get pledges from their friends, families and people in the community. An award was also given to the participant who raised the most money.
Kelly Laakso, a sexual assault victim advocate at the Women’s Center, gave a brief presentation prior to the walk encouraging those in attendance to continue campaigning for victims of sexual assault, who she said are most often females under the age of 25.
“It’s a very traumatic topic, and it’s our way of involving the male gender to participate and show their support (for an end to) sexual violence in a fun way,” Laakso said.
The theme of this year’s walk, Laakso said, was “Making a Difference: Your Role in Sexual Violence Prevention on Campus and the Community.”
“(Sexual violence) affects more than one person and everybody as a society does have a role to play in preventing (it),” Laakso said. “We want to put it out there that we won’t tolerate this anymore.”
“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” has become a tradition for the fraternity brothers of Lambda Chi Alpha. Member and senior criminal justice major Chris Grigas walked for his fourth and final year and encouraged new walkers to practice beforehand.
“It gives men a new perspective,” Grigas said. “We’re uncomfortable for a mile, but if someone gets sexually assaulted, they’re uncomfortable for the rest of their lives.”
Other events that the Women’s Center will sponsor during Sexual Assault Awareness Month will include All-Denim Day on April 21 and a presentation on April 22 at the Marquette Commons.
This year’s event was sponsored by the Marquette Women’s Center, NMU HPO, Lambda Chi Alpha, NMU Social Work Organization, Women for Women and NMU Public Safety. Cosmetology students were also available to give foot massages after the walk.
For more information on these events or available services, call the Women’s Center at 906 225-1346.