Around 150 students gathered in the EMU Amphitheater in the Sunday sun. Men donned high heels and everyone danced to Beyoncé.
Alpha Chi Omega hosted the third annual In Her Shoes event to raise awareness about sexual assault and domestic violence. Participants walked a mile around the University of Oregon campus, finishing their trek at the AXO house where snacks for everyone and resources for survivors were available.
“High heels are no fun to walk in,” Sage Asher, Vice President of philanthropy for AXO said, “so while we are walking, it is kind of a reminder to start talking about the issue.”
AXO supports sexual assault and domestic violence awareness as its main cause, Asher said. In Her Shoes is a national event; however, AXO has put its own spin on the event over the last three years, giving all the proceeds to Womenspace, a local domestic violence service organization. Asher said the event raised over $1,000.
Before the walk began, Kasia Mlynski a staff attorney for the domestic violence clinic on campus addressed the crowd. She reminded everyone that this event was to raise awareness for anyone who sees the walk, not just people taking part.
“I hope it accomplishes awareness,” Mlynski said. “A lot of people think, ‘That’s not me. I don’t know someone in a domestic violence situation. That hasn’t impacted my life,’ when the reality is, it absolutely has […] the statistics prove that most likely, someone in your inner circle has been affected by domestic violence.”
Women wearing heels is a common sight; seeing men in them isn’t.
“It’s painful; It’s rough,” Jake Ledbetter, a freshman and member of Delta Tau Delta said about his shoes. “It’s not easy to stand around in heels.”
Another member of DTD, Ryan Seibold, said he felt he was “born to wear these wedges.”
“It’s not everyday you see a bunch of guys walking around in wedges and high heels,” he said. “It’s something that people get to enjoy while also spreading a positive message.”
Mlynski said she was glad men were coming out to show support, but she hopes they remember the purpose of the event.
“I think it’s a great show and a great effort. I really hope they take a minute to reflect on why they are walking a mile in heels,” she said. “To really think about how hard it is to be a survivor in our community.”