Bring back ‘Walk a Mile’ event



Staff Writer Sarah Ritondale calls for the return of the “Walk a Mile” fraternity event, which aims to raise awareness for sexual assault.

SARAH RITONDALE, Opinion Columnist

Two years ago, the Northern Iowan published an opinion piece in regards to an event a fraternity on campus participated in to promote “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.”

The Inner Fraternal Council (IFC) held the walk each year, and the men put on high heels and walked a mile through Cedar Falls while bystanders watched them wobble through the streets.  This event was supposedly terminated after the article ripped the event to shreds.

The article stated several points indicating that the fraternity was making light of sexual assault by participating in a fun event that promoted their philanthropy of sexual assault awareness.

The article also stated that the use of high heels is not gender inclusive — thereby, turning away men, non-binary, genderqueer or gender fluid individuals that may be survivors of sexual assault.

The writer of this article urged the fraternity to come up with different ways to raise awareness.

She stated, “If you really want to get involved in the fight against sexual assault, there are lot of things you can do that don’t involve gimmicks.”

However, this event was no gimmick — just as any other Greek life philanthropy event. Fraternities and sororities on UNI’s campus all hold fun events to bring awareness, support and donations for their philanthropy.

Each Greek organization has a philanthropy that raises money for a good cause, such as autism, women’s health, children’s health, heart disease, military heroes and even sexual assault awareness, just to name a few.

These topics are not, as the 2016 article states, “fun” at all. That is why these topics need to be addressed; the reason for raising money is to make a change and help the cause.

The fraternity in question continuously receives unwanted backlash for their philanthropy, with people stating they are not gender inclusive, they are not advocating for sexual assault in a proper manner or that they are simply not doing enough.

The fraternity continuously holds events to raise money for the Riverview Center so the center can have free services for sexual assault victims to get the physical and emotional assistance they need.

So really, what is enough?

I feel that the fraternity did not walk around in high heels because high heels define women. They walk in high heels because it is a difficult task — just as many survivors walk around carrying the burden of sexual assault on their shoulders.

These men are giving their time to raise money to employ the people who are certified in helping individuals in need.

I also would like to pose this question: would backlash occur if this was a sorority or another gender inclusive organization? Is it simply because they are men trying to bring awareness on an issue that is largely caused by men?

If that’s the case, that brings into consideration the doubters’ opinion that “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” is not gender inclusive, and the men involved are simply doing it for “fun.”

Sexual assault sees no gender. So why can men not advocate against it?

If men are completing the difficult task of walking a mile in pain, embarrassment and wobbling like a baby deer, why should they be shot down for trying to raise awareness regarding a serious issue, even if it is in a fun way?

As a woman, I would divulge that walking in heels is not something I would consider fun.

What makes it fun is when you’re in your heels with your friends, even if you’re going nowhere — especially when someone really can’t walk in heels and are making a goof of themselves, just as the men voluntarily are making a goof of themselves in order to raise money for this cause.

Therefore, if the men are not doing what people consider “enough,” I challenge everyone to do enough.

Sexual assault does not affect individuals in just the Greek Community. It also affects individuals in the UNI community, the state of Iowa, the United States of America and the world.

With that in mind, I would like to challenge the University of Northern Iowa to bring “Walk a Mile in THEIR Shoes” to the campus during the month of April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Instead of limiting the participants to just men in one fraternity, open it up to all UNI students, regardless of their gender, to participate in walking the mile together.