Students raise sexual assault awareness

Jessica Johnson

UW Oshkosh is holding its third annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes march to raise awareness against rape, sexual assault and gender violence on college campuses. The event will promotesexual awareness month on May 6 in the Reeve Memorial Union Ballroom. Program Assistant for the Women’s Center Eliza Farrow said there are events on campus like Walk a Mile in Her Shoes and Bystander Intervention Workshops to educate individuals, promote awareness and teach how and when to safely intervene to prevent sexual assault and help survivors. Dylan Erickson, a master of ceremonies for the event, said the event promotes education and direct intervention. “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is an event where students and the community can not only become aware of issues concerning gender violence, sexual assault and rape, but become active in the conversation of reducing and ending these issues on our campus and community,” Erickson said. Erickson said ending gender violence starts with students. “We need to understand what our actions can do to others and how we can stand up for those who are being perpetrated against,” Erickson said. Farrow said the event specifically targets men to wear high heels to show their support against rape, gender violence and sexual assault. “This walk is not to make fun of men who are wearing high heels, but more to stand in solidarity with people who may look differently or have been a survivor of rape or sexual assault,” Farrow said. According to Erickson, due to the high rate of sexual assault on campuses, informing students, staff, faculty and the community about sexual assault can reduce the rates. “Education can be our greatest catalyst when encouraging change in our society,” Erickson said. “Knowing information like this will encourage students to stand up and advocate for those who may be victimized.” Dakota Swank, a recipient for this year’s “Sole Man” award, said he opened his eyes to how fixated both men and women were on their sexual relationships. “I personally feel victimized by this culture because it seems to be what is defining my generation of men, the age when chivalry died,” Swank said. Swank said by receiving the “Sole Man” award, it shows that there are still men out there who are willing to fight against sexual assault. “I just hope that people can recognize that the responsibility does not fall on me, or on the culture of the generation, but it falls on each individual to take that stand and to be different, to be better,” Swank said. Marie Birenbaum, an intern at the Women’s Center, said it is important for people to realize rape, sexual assault and gender violence are occurring on campus. “By walking in the event, everyone can take a part in standing up for not only the victims on campus, but also the men as allies themselves,” Birenbaum said. Swank said the event shows men there are ways to stand out and show women they are not alone. “The men in this walk, we are allies in this fight for chivalry, and we must represent it,” Swank said