On Wednesday night, men in high heels gathered in Borchuck Plaza to participate in Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.
“We were trying to think of something that would really start to create a dialogue and be sort of a game changer for campus conversation,” Kate Emmerich, OASIS program coordinator said.
Emmerich said that the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event was started five years ago. The goal was to raise awareness of sexual assault, and the Counseling Center did this by creating an event where men walk around campus in high heels
“I think that this was one of the best years, if not the best,” Emmerich said. “In this walk people stuck together. Usually people are trying to run ahead and make a point, but this time people stuck together, and they had an organized plan, and they were very supportive of each other.”
This year’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes was different from other years, due to the fact that sororities and fraternities teamed up with the Counseling Center.
“The purpose of it is to advocate and educate about sexual assault prevention and awareness,” said Maggie Darden, director of Fraternity and Sorority Life. “Every year fraternities and sororities are some of the largest participants here. This is the first year that we’ve kind of cosponsored it with the counseling center just to provide more volunteer support.”
Darden said she had participated in the walk before.
“I have participated in this event before, and I love it,” she said. “We always luck out and have great weather, and we have so many people come just to support. I love that it’s a catchy thing. It’s not often that you see men wearing heels, especially cis men. It’s just a good opportunity for us to do something out of the regular path.”
Emmerich said that over the years, the event has gotten support from the community.
“We get a lot of Johnson City coverage by like the news,” Emmerich said. “I think that it’s really great that we have people coming in from the community over the years saying, ‘I want to be involved with that, and I think it’s a very great message.’ I hear people all year long being like, ‘I’m really excited for this event. It’s my favorite event of the year. ‘”
Community Relations Officer Bill Mitchell has participated in the event for three years.
“This is a special event, walking for a cause,” Mitchell said. “I come out every year to do this with them. I love being with the people.”
Mitchell said that those who had never tried the event should come out and have fun.
“A lot of people won’t do it because it’s not macho,” Mitchell said. “You’ve got to be open. Let your macho images down to get out here and show support and put on high heels.”
Austin Lavender is an ETSU senior, and he said participating in the walk gave him a glimpse into what women go through every day.
“Wearing this for only 30 minutes is nothing compared to what women have to do for days and days on the work force,” Lavender said. “I can’t feel my feet. This event is empowering, and it helps you understand people better.”