By Katy Shenk
Elm Staff Writer
On Sunday afternoon, approximately 30 men braved the wind and rain to sport bright-red heels and strut alongside their friends and fellow participants. Their mile-long walk raised awareness for sexual assault and domestic violence.
The “Walk-A-Mile In Their Shoes” event was hosted by Washington College’s chapter of Alpha Chi Omega, who has partnered with the Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence and For All Seasons.
The national Walk-A-Mile event was created in 2001 as “a playful way for men to raise awareness in their community about the serious causes, effects, and remediation to men’s sexualized violence against women,” according to the organization website.
In recent years, Alpha Chi has expanded the event beyond their annual fundraising.
“We have added an educational component with our partner, Mid Shore Council on Family Violence. MSCFV provides shelter, counseling, services and advocacy for victims and abusers,” chapter advisor, archivist & special collections librarian, and assistant professor Dr. Heather Calloway said.
This year’s event saw donations from over 170 people and involved many return participants according to Madi Myers, vice president philanthropy chair. Tickets were sold for $10 in Hodson Hall the week of April 8-14.
Junior Jennifer Walls, current chair of public relations and marketing, was in charge of advertising the event on social media. This included making a Facebook event, posting on the Facebook page, Tweeting, posting Instagrams and Instagram stories, and encouraging the chapter to participate in their own personal marketing plans on their respective social media platforms, she said.
Before the men began their march, Myers and Rachel Boyle, director of PEAC, spoke to the importance of raising awareness for sexual assault and the influence of the two partner organizations in providing educational programs for the victims of sexual violence.
Due to the help of PEAC and Theta Chi, participants received a T-shirt with their registration and free pizza following the event.
“As a sister of Alpha Chi Omega and as a college student, this cause is really close to my heart. It’s really incredible to see our college community come together to support two of our amazing local organizations,” Myers said.
This year, the event underwent an important distinction in order to become more inclusive of all victims of sexual violence.
In the past the event has been called “Walk-A-Mile in Her Shoes” but this year it was modified to “A Walk in Their Shoes” to ensure the values of the event were being articulated clearly, according to Walls.
“This event is important because it brings awareness to the fact that women are not the only ones experiencing violence and/or abuse. one in four men have been the victim of family violence,” Dr. Calloway said.
Alpha Chi’s annual efforts were recognized by the community this past month when they were awarded “Volunteer of the Year” by the Mid Shore Council on Family Violence for their work raising awareness of family violence and for supporting the work of MSCFV to make sure everyone has access to safe and supportive relationships.
“I have always really enjoyed participating in this event because I believe acknowledging Sexual Assault Awareness month is important,” Walls said. “Inviting participants to wear heels is a light-hearted way to get people involved and start the important conversation about ending sexual assault.”