Students and community members gathered at the Ramsses statue Sept. 25 at 5:30 p.m. for the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event to increase sexual assault awareness.
Mackenzie Grannon, assistant director for the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Coalition (SAPAC), helped organize the event in coordination with the Memphis Area Women’s Council and Christian Brothers.
“This is our second year here at the University of Memphis campus,” Grannon said. “This is the ninth annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes that we’ve had. We are trying to make bigger strides.”
The walk invites participants, particularly men, to wear heels, literally walk a mile in her shoes and spread a message of unity with all sexual assault survivors. Walk a Mile in Her Shoes does not require participants to wear heels, but provides various kinds of female footwear to walk in.
“Last year, we estimated about 240 people,” Grannon said. “This year, we hope to knock that out of the water.”
Zeta Beta Tau and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternities both made it a priority to attend the event, with some members sporting the flashiest footwear the event had to offer.
Zeta Beta Tau president and SAPAC executive director Alex Tate encouraged his fraternity to get involved in sexual assault awareness.
“Our philanthropy is actually sexual assault awareness,” Tate said. “We partnered with SAPAC for our signature event this past spring, where we raised about $1000. It was pretty unanimous when I asked if they wanted to come and support this.”
Beyond organizing, Tate also wanted to spread a personal positive message to all victims of sexual assault.
“I’m a big dude, so people tend to assume that the narrative doesn’t apply to me, but I am actually a survivor of sexual assault,” Tate said. “I want to reach more men, men who may have had the same experience as me or men who haven’t but have been heavily affected by a friend or family member. I want to get them to be more outspoken about the issue.”
Bria Scott, a music major in her junior year, attended to the event with two of her friends. This was Scott’s second year attending the walk, and she admitted that her friends had been the ones to remind her of the event.
“I’m glad that they want to experience it,” Scott said. “It’s nice to see men walking in women’s shoes in the name of such a good cause.”
Grannon emphasized the importance of sexual assault awareness as not just a women’s issue.
“Today, we want to spread the message that it isn’t just women being assaulted, it’s also men,” Grannon said. “It’s important for men and women to work together to accomplish a greater awareness and understanding of sexual assault. I’m hoping that today will give everybody that kickstart to have conversations; putting down boundaries and guidelines in what is acceptable in a relationship or in the workplace. This is a level ground of mutual respect.”