More than 100 DeSales University students donned blue t-shirts and high heels to take part in the national “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” campaign on Wednesday, September 28. The event raises money and awareness for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and gender violence.
“It is important because it raises awareness for the threat of sexual assault on college campus, and it gets men involved with fighting the issue, which is vital to success,” says Michael Romano ’17, a political science major who organized the walk.
The DeSales University Peer Advising Counseling Educating (PACE) team hosted the event, which benefits Crime Victims Council of the Lehigh Valley, Lehigh Valley Health Network SAFE Nurses, and Turning Point of the Lehigh Valley.
For Wendy Krisak, director of counseling at DeSales, shining a spotlight on sexual assault and unhealthy relationships is vital, especially when it comes to freshmen students. The highest rates of sexual assault happen within the first six weeks on college campuses.
"Students are mixing alcohol, having sex, and there's no consent going on so they don't realize that what happened is actually a crime,” says Krisak. “It used to be no means no. Now, it's yes means yes."
The event began with PACE members sharing victims’ stories, including a female college student who was raped during a campus party and a boy who was beaten by his father throughout his childhood. Romano then played two celebrity-filled PSA campaigns focusing on domestic violence. After hearing a list of sobering statistics about rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence, students strapped on their high heels and walked across campus under the threat of stormy skies.
Jessie Lamb, a senior nursing major, took part in the walk for the first time. “I wish I had done it in my previous years,” she says. “I think it spreads a good message. Doing an event like this kind of gets the conversation going and the awareness.”
Romano couldn’t agree more. He’s been involved with PACE for the past three years but this was his first year organizing the walk. "I think the message kind of speaks for itself,” he says. “For this type of message, no one is against this kind of thing. People are really passionate about women's rights and women's safety. I think when we have a message as good as this, it kind of draws people itself."
“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” is a national event that was started by Frank Baird in 2001 in San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valley, California. What began as a small movement for Baird eventually flourished into a worldwide event that has raised money to benefit rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters.
For more information on “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” or the PACE team, contact Romano at firstname.lastname@example.org or Krisak at Wendy.Krisak@desales.edu, or call the PACE office at 610.282.1100, ext. 7223.
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