Walk raises heels, voices against violence

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The third annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes was April 11, 2017 in the mall where about 70 participants join the march to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence. Men wore heels that they either borrow from the school and from family members or bought from a store. Photo by Brianna Rodrigue

By Alison Graef

agraef@student.alamo.edu

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.

Dahlia Patron, American Sign Language sophomore, shows Anthony Franklin, business and kinesiology sophomore, a bedazzled wedge that he could wear for the third annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes march April 11 but the shoe didn’t fit him. Students, faculty and staff males wore heels that they either reserved through the school, borrow from family members or bought at a store to join the march to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence. Photo by Brianna Rodrigue

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.

Sandra Nickelberry, president of the non-traditional students club and vice president of the cat club, leads the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes march April 11 and chants “One in five is too many!” and “The absence of ‘no’ is not consent!” so they can be heard. Kinesiology freshman Patrick Elizondo with the kinesiology club struts with his black heels next to Nickelberry. Elizondo received the most spirited award. Photo by Brianna Rodrigue

Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood served as grand marshal for the march.

Liberal arts freshman Matthew Rodarte shows the broken wedge to people after almost finishing the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes march April 11. Rodarte received the Highest Heel award for wearing the highest heel even though one broke. Photo by Brianna Rodrigue

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.

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