Mercyhurst men walk against sexual assault

Marina Boyle, Features Editor

“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” is a new initiative on campus to highlight sexual assault.

The Mercyhurst Equality of Women club (MEOW) and the Bystander Intervention Committee have teamed up to create a men’s march to bring awareness to the prevalence of sexual assault in our world.

The event will take place on Oct. 10 in Trinity Green at 3 p.m. MEOW and the Bystander Intervention Committee are challenging men on campus to walk one mile in red high heels. It is hoped that through this comical event, men can come to understand to some extent the issues women, and indeed the entire human population, face with regard to sexual assault.

Ariel Dodick, project manager for Sexual Assault Prevention, is going to speak to the guests about the history of MEOW, what the march is about and how to bring awareness to sexual assault.

Senior Natalia Joseph, MEOW vice president, has hopes that the group will get a good turnout for this event and build on the successes of a similar event three years ago.
“We have reached out to the sports teams and ROTC. Of course, all students on campus are welcome to join. Men get to walk a literal mile in red high heels. The last time this event was hosted, the men really got into it and began racing in the heels,” Joseph said.

Senior Abby Armstrong, MEOW club president, was also happy to explain the premise and purpose of the event.
“I think this event is important because it brings attention to a topic that can sometimes be difficult to discuss. Sexual assault is not an easy subject to talk about, and I think in many cases when it does come up, it can sometimes be construed as an attack towards men, who statistically are the highest group to commit sexual assault,” Armstrong said.
“Instead of hosting an event that focuses on blame or man-hating, this event includes men into the story. It gives them an opportunity to stand up for preventing sexual assault, and to show in a very public way that they are an ally against it.”

While this event does, by definition, tend to identify women as the people primarily being sexually assaulted, MEOW and the Bystander Intervention Committee also hope to draw attention to the fact that there are various other assault victims.

The LGBTQ community and other minority groups such as African-American and Hispanic women also experience sexual assault rates at disproportionately high levels.

“So while this event is Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, we hope it is more of an event that focuses on ‘Walking in Their Shoes’ — because many groups are being affected by sexual assault,” Joseph said.
As well as addressing issues that directly affect Mercyhurst, the event will also have information about victim aid on and off campus, staff and student speakers and snacks following the walk.

This walk is not the only take on social justice issues on campus this week. While not directly connected to this event, a similar initiative aims to bring awareness to domestic abuse.

The Silent Witness Project, coordinated by the organization Safe Net, has distributed cardboard silhouettes to be displayed across campus. Each red silhouette represents a life lost to domestic abuse.

Each cutout contains a fact or statistic about domestic abuse and reminds students of the resources they can reach out to if they know anyone who may be in danger.

Between this and the “Walk a Mile” event, commendable Mercyhurst initiatives are not afraid to make a stand against violence in all its forms this week.