WKU men ‘Walk a Mile’ to protest sexual assault, domestic violence

Karlos Harbor, St. Louis, a member of Black Student Alliance, reaches a jogging pace to climb a hill during Walk a Mile in Her Shoes on Wednesday. “At first I didnt think it would be that hard, but after walking up that hill, my dogs are barking,” Harbor said.

Christian Marnon

An age-old slogan says you can’t know a man until you walk a mile in his shoes, but the WKU “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event says you can’t know a woman until you walk a mile in heels.

This is exactly what close to 100 men did on Wednesday afternoon in protest of rape, sexual violence and domestic abuse.

“Walk a Mile” is an international charitable event that has occurred annually at WKU for four years. Organized by the WKU Interfraternity Council, the charity asked men from across campus to slip into high heels in order to raise awareness about gender violence in the community.

Sturgis sophomore Clay Ahart said sexual assault and domestic violence are relevant now more than ever.

“As men, we see that there is a problem with sexual assault and gender violence,” he said. “This is just one way we’re stepping out and stepping up to help prevent that here at WKU.”

The event kick-started at 10:30 a.m. where participants, some wearing thick socks, gathered on the Chi Omega sorority house’s front lawn to squeeze into their pair of heels before beginning the walk 15 minutes later.

Sturgis junior Chris Hancock said all proceeds go to Hope Harbor, a local non-profit crisis counseling center.

“Hope Harbor counsels people affected by sexual violence issues, and we’re excited to help,” he said.

This year’s walk raised $2,000 for Hope Harbor and Hancock said the event is an effective statement against gender violence.

“It shows that we are willing to stand up against these crimes, and to walk a mile in high heels to show that,” he said.

The walking route started at the Chi Omega lawn, went up the hill, around Cherry Hall and down the Avenue of Champions, before ending at the Centennial Mall.

Participants hobbled, grimaced and stumbled to the finish line. But they didn’t, however, forget to keep good spirits.

After crossing the finish line, Nolensville, Tenn. sophomore Garrett Haug said doing the walk in high heels hurt and Louisville junior Donte Ellison shared that sentiment.

“It’s very, very painful,” he said. “Now when I see my girlfriend in high heels I can say, ‘I feel your pain.’”

Elizabeth Madariaga, Sexual Assault Services Coordinator, gave a speech to conclude the event.

“Sexual violence effects everyone in our community,” she said. “Believe it or not, this is an issue on our campus.”

Madariaga expressed her gratitude to all who participated.

“By you all coming out today, you have let women and men know that you do not blame them, you support them, you are behind them and you want to help them get through this the best they can,” she said.