Students “Walk a mile in her shoes”: bringing awareness to sexual assault

Participants finish their second lap around the Eastern Union Lawn. WSGA hosted the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event April 9, 2022.

According to RAINN, each year about 463,634 people become victims of rape and sexual assalt in the U.S. In addition, the overall rate of nonconsensual sexual contact is 13% amongst college students, 9.7% being female.

In response, the Washburn Student Government Association hosted “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” on April 9. During this event men, as well as some women, walk a mile in high heels to understand what many women endure and to help raise awareness of sexual assault.

To provide additional information and support for the event, WSGA invited Emily Steimel-Handy, the public education coordinator for YWCA.

Ariel Smith, campus and community affairs director for WSGA, planned the event to raise awareness and prevention efforts into “action” for students on campus.

“I think seeing it and having something as big as people walking a mile in high heels helps put it into a visual aspect that’s easier for people to understand and makes a louder statement about the issue at hand,” Smith said.

Before the walk, participants gathered for coffee and breakfast. Many were excited for the walk and ready to learn more about the cause. Ethan Nelson, a senior english and psychology major, expressed his reasoning for attending.

“It’s really for a good cause. It’s to be a part of sexual assault awareness month and I would pretty much do anything to raise awareness for a good cause,” Nelson said.

The walk began at 10 a.m. Each participant began their walk next to the Morgan building and took five laps around the Eastern Union Lawn. As time passed, some participants began to walk slower, not used to moving in heels. Near the end some gathered the courage to sprint, or jog, across the finish line.

After completing the walk several participants showed joy, proud to have made it through and excited for next year.

“It was a lot of fun. I’ll definitely do it again if they have it next year,” Nelson said.

Others spoke on the empowerment they felt and enjoyed the new experience of wearing heels.

“[Finishing the walk] I feel sexy,” said Morgan Sisson, a Washburn alumni.

Later, Smith showed appreciation for the turnout of the event, and expressed her desire to keep it going each year.

“Everyone here at Washburn really helped me make this come to life and of course the participants. We had 22 amazing participants and this wouldn’t be possible without them. It went as well as I could have hoped and even better. My hope is that whoever is in my position next year, will keep the tradition alive,” Smith said.

If you or someone else you know is struggling with sexual assault you can reach out to campus advocate Molly Steffes-Herman, or visit the YWCA website.
If you would like to report a crime of sexual assault contact WUPD or the Topeka Police Department.
Edited By: Simran Shrestha, Kyle Manthe