Frank Baird created “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” in 2001 to raise awareness for sexual violence against women. Finding the issue downplayed by the media and American culture in general, the original organizers of the event worked hard to create a nationally renowned campaign with locally organized events happening all across the country.
According to their website, they’ve raised millions for “local rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters and other sexualized violence education, prevention and remediation programs.”
Last weekend, Michigan State University’s Alpha Chi Omega brought the walk to East Lansing. This is the fourth year in a row that they’ve put the event on.
Over 110 male students participated in the walk, all of them wearing glorious red heels. It was a great scene to watch the men of MSU to not be concerned about their image and doing something to raise awareness for the problems faced by fellow female students.
With all of the pledges involved in the event, Alpha Chi Omega was able to raise money for local charities or shelters that support women, such as MSU Safe Place. We asked Lizzie Gray, a member of the sorority, who brought the event together a few questions:
The Big Green: How did you go about organizing the event in East Lansing?
Lizzie Gray: I organized this event by connecting with the community of East Lansing as well as the Michigan State University community. It is an annual event that thrives on the support of people. I organized the event by reaching out to people and spreading the importance of awareness for survivors of domestic violence.
TBG: How did you select which charities to donate to?
LG: Alpha Chi Omega at Michigan State University has been supporting MSU Safe Place for years now. So each year when we have this event it’s great knowing that the funds and awareness we are raising are going to a local shelter. It’s important to know that these survivors are the women and children in your community and so picking a charity that is local is extremely important to us.
TBG: Do you believe there is a problem with sexual assault on campus?
LG: I believe that sexual assault is an issue everywhere, but especially on college campuses. I think the real issue is that most survivors may speak up, but people don’t listen. But I have no doubt that people on our campus have experienced sexual assault and are struggling with being heard.
TBG: What do you think is the best way to contribute towards fixing an environment that’s harsh towards women?
LG: I think the best way towards fixing the environment is having events like “Walk A Mile” to raise awareness and show that people will not stand for sexual assault and domestic violence. Campaigns like “It’s On Us” bring so much attention to an extremely important issue right now. I think by bringing these survivors stories to attention, it helps to protect more women as well as give more women the power to stay strong. It also helps to shine a light on a problem that needs to be fixed.
After speaking with Gray and attending the event, it is clear that there is always work to be done towards making our campus safer for women. Events and attitudes like these are a step in the right direction for creating a dialogue that will help make this a reality.