In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Criminal Justice Graduate Student Organization invites the public to the third annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® one mile march on April 3 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to raise awareness for sexual assault, rape, and gender violence.
This event takes “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” literally as men are asked to either bring their own high heels, or pre-register for a pair at http://shsuwalkamile.wixsite.com/saam/preregistration for free. Females are welcome to walk in heels, but it is not mandatory. Pre-registration is encouraged, but not required.
“The pre-registration is for a claim on limited t-shirts and shoes,” PHD graduate student Eric Cooke said. “We only have a limited number of high heels, and in certain sizes, so we encourage the men registering to put down their male shoe size and their t-shirt size.”
Participants will initially meet in the LSC ballroom to hear two short presentations before the approximately 40-minute walk around campus.
SHSU’s criminal justice center victimologist Britney Vegas will be describing what sexual assault is, and who and where to report it to. Next, SHSU senior and rape survivor Georgie McNeese will discuss how sexual assault has impacted her life, and present practical ways for everyone to involved in the fight against sexual assault.
“It is difficult to get in front of a lot of people and talk about something so painful and personal, but I am excited to have an opportunity to create change in my community,” McNease said.
McNease wishes to end the stigma surrounding sexual assault, and focus on rehabilitation for all.
“Most people have misconceptions about both survivors of sexual assault and the people who commit sexual assaults,” McNease said. “I hope that we move towards a place where survivors are supported and those who commit sexual assaults are given an appropriate space to change their behaviors so that everyone is able to move forward.”
Frank Baird founded the international Walk a Mile® movement in 2001, but Eric Cooke was the first to produce this event at Sam in Spring 2015 when noting how prevalent these issues are on college campuses.
“What the hope is with sexual assault awareness month is to really bring to light issues that sometimes are not talked about as much,” Cooke said. “Females between the ages of 18 to 24 are at the highest likelihood of being sexually assaulted, specifically on college campuses, which is why it’s important to talk about it here.”
Cooke encourages students to be vocal and active about this sexual assault awareness #AddYourVoice campaign by using social media. Cooke asks that any photos taken and posted include the following hashtags: #SHSU, #WAM2k17, and #AddYourVoice. He also encourages using the Walk a Mile® Snapchat filter that will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The filter will be in the colors of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Cooke and supporting organizations will be making some posters, but home-made posters are also acceptable provided they are appropriate and event-based.
This event has been months in the making, and the Cooke has coordinated with multiple organizations such as the CJ Graduate Student Org, the UPD, the Crime Victims Alliance, Alpha Chi Omega, and the College of Criminal Justice. With almost 300 participants last year, Cooke is optimistic about the turnout of this event.
However, this is not the only Sexual Assault Awareness Month event Cooke wants people to be aware of. There are 11 dedicated events, but the next three are events are AXO Dodgeball Tournament on April 2, What’s the Scoop Series featuring free ice cream on April 4, and the Not a Number talent showcase on April 4.
Overall, Cooke urges the public to attend these events as he believes acknowledging how gender affects our daily lives will lead to conversations on what consent is, the importance of it, and how to live better lives because of it.
“What would be great is for students and community members to be aware of how gender precipitates into our lives, and how we view and treat people differently based on gender,” Cooke said. “I encourage everyone to read on these issues, or go outside one’s area of comfort and go to events like these, and listen to those who are experts in this field and have dedicated their lives to researching and looking for solutions. It’s an uncomfortable topic, but a pervasive issue.”
For more information on SHSU’s Walk a Mile®, visit shsuwalkamile.wix.com/SAAM. For information on the international Walk a Mile® initiative, visit walkamileinhershoes.org. For further information on other Sexual Assault Awareness Month Events, visit shsu.edu/titleix.