By Alison Graef
Chants of “One in five is too many!” and “The absence of ‘no’ is not consent!” were heard April 11 on the walkway between Flethcher and Oppenheimer.
About 140 students, faculty, staff and community members participated in the third annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes march to raise awareness of rape, sexual assault and gender violence toward women.
The march is hosted annually by Services for Women and Non-Traditional Students (SWANS) in April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a nationally designated month for raising awareness about sexual violence and educating people on how to prevent it.
About 35 men donned stilettos, pumps and wedges to walk from the mall east of Moody Learning Center to the empowerment center.
“As the old saying goes, ‘You can’t understand another’s experience until you walk a mile in their shoes,’” said Helen Vera, director of SWANS, at the pre-march gathering in the Fiesta Room of Loftin Student Center.
“This is a fun event that helps us to talk about something that sometimes is difficult to talk about.”
Richard Farias, interim dean of student success, spoke about the prevalence of sexual assault against women and men in the U.S. and the importance of erasing the stigma against victims.
Farias said he knows women and girls who have experienced sexual assault and said victims should not suffer in silence.
One in five women enrolled in college is a victim of rape or attempted rape, according to a survey conducted by the Association of American Universities in 2015.
“I can’t imagine the number of men and women who I and all of us probably meet on a daily basis who are silent victims,” Farias said.
Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood served as grand marshal for the march.
LaHood said it is important to support people who have been victimized and not label them. He said when victims become defined by labels, they begin to believe they cannot overcome negative circumstances.
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is a worldwide event that started in 2001 at Strength United in Los Angeles. Today marchers around the globe participate.
“Aw, man!” exclaimed liberal arts freshman Matthew Rodarte as the glittery black heel of his black and pink wedges snapped off 50 yards from the empowerment center. “Can you believe that? I was doing really good, too!”
Broken but not “de-feet-ed,” Rodarte walked the last leg of the march with the support of a friend. At the empowerment center, he was honored with the Highest Heel award for having the highest heels in the march.
Jacob-Aidan Martinez, director of student conduct, walked with purpose and style this year. He said he participated in last year’s march last-minute, so he ended up in painfully uncomfortable heels. This year, he arrived early and scored a better-fitting pair. He was honored with the Best Walk award.