By Rachel Miles
On Wednesday, students, faculty, and staff gathered on the back quad for the annual Walk a Mile event.
According to sophomore Jamie Allen, the event started in 2001 by Frank Baird by a group of men who wanted a physical activity that would demonstrate their support for women who have been victims of sexual assault. Since then, the event has spread worldwide, gaining thousands of new participants.
Walk a Mile, according to their website, has the intention of having people ‘walk the walk’ in order to ‘talk the talk.’ Andrew mentioned as he and Allen introduced the event that, at the end of the mile, everyone would be able to take off their shoes, but that women do not have the same opportunity to take off their gender roles.
The Roanoke College chapter of this event began with everyone collecting at 4:30 p.m. to sign in and receive a pair of shiny red heels in their size. Once everyone had received their footwear, they took off about a half hour later. Some started the walk confidently and others slowly, but by the end of the first lap around the back quad, many were struggling. The next three laps saw stiff legs, duck waddles, and some trips. However, most men kept their chins up, a couple even trying to dance or join in with students playing football on the quad. There were also many remarks given to the girls walking with the group of “I don’t know how you do it.” That comment represented much of what the walk was trying to teach.
The local band 360 donated their time and music to play live for the entire event. There was a lot of involvement in the event, and participants walked away with a better understanding of some of the challenges of the female gender role and a better awareness for the issue of sexual assault. April is sexual assault awareness month, and both HEAT and the Sexual Misconduct Prevention Team have been working to put on events this month, as well as throughout the year, to raise awareness.