This college was the only one locally to participate in this national event.
By Sandy Cordell
The morning of April 10 started with a cool breeze as the staff from the empowerment center prepared for the college’s participation in an international march “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.”
To kick off the fifth-annual march, staff from the center brought out colorful shoes collected over the years for the event.
“Some of the guys bring their own shoes,” empowerment center counselor Lina Pena said.
The event is hosted by the empowerment center as part of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” is an international men’s march to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence, according to the website.
“This college was the only institution of higher learning in the San Antonio area to participate in the national event Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” Helen Vera, director of services for women and nontraditional students, said.
As 11 a.m. drew near, 49 walkers gathered ON the mall.
About 30 women attended to support the men.
Many carried signs, some signs reading, “The absence of no is not a yes.”
Many of the walkers have participated every year.
“Domestic violence is a very big problem. My family has experienced violence. So, this is close to my heart,” Javier Vargas, fifth year walker and STEM adviser, said.
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar served as the grand marshal.
“The one thing I couldn’t do was wear the red shoes with this uniform; it would clash,’ Salazar said.
The sheriff was seated atop his rescue horse, D.C., as he led the way across the campus to the empowerment center at 703 Howard St.
D.C. easily walked across the pavers of this campus displaying red glittery hooves.
Flanked by Salazar, on two equal sized steeds, were investigator Pete Gamboa and Deputy Albert Silvia.
“My wife and I are raising two daughters to be strong and empowered women who demand better treatment,” Salazar said.
“You can’t really understand someone else’s experience until you have walked a mile in their shoes,” Vera said. “Through this event and walking in high heel shoes, the hope of the staff of the empowerment center was that men better understand and appreciate women’s experiences.”
“When we change our perspectives, we improve gender relationships and decrease the potential for gender violence,” Vera said.
Among staff and faculty from this college to participate was Mike Burton, English, education, humanities and journalism-photography department chair.
This was Burton’s fourth year to walk.
“The first year I won best walk; I was so proud of myself.”
After the walk, Burton said, “Whoever loaned me these shoes was a godsend; I hope I can get the same pair next year. Anything I can do to bring awareness, I’ll try to do,” Burton said.
Women 18-24 in college are three times more likely to be assaulted than women not in college, but only about 20 percent of women report the occurrence to police, according to statistics from the Rape Crisis Center.
Eight members of SACMEN participated in the event.
“We are a very community engaged organization. It’s important that we are out here,” student success specialist Dominic Carrasco said.
Many of the walkers were relieved as they arrived at the empowerment center to several rows of chairs.
Awards were given for glamour, walk and spirit.
Adviser Fidel Bem won for best walk. Curriculum analyst Joseph Duran won most glamorous shoes. SLAC lab won most spirited club.
“The balls of my feet hurt as I was tiptoeing,” sociology sophomore Andrew Perez said. “It was very empowering, enduring what women go through wearing heels.”