Students walk to prevent sexual assault on campus

Jessica Johnson

UW Oshkosh held its third annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event where students, faculty and members of the community gathered to raise awareness against rape, sexual assault and gender violence on Wednesday in the Reeve Memorial Union Ballroom. Joe Sobralski, member of fraternity Beta Theta Pi, said he participated in the event to support a great cause and to learn more about gender violence and sexual assault. “Ending gender violence and sexual assault on campus is really important, and it’s crucial for students to show their support and walk to show solidarity,” Sobralski said. Keynote speaker Jeremy Loveday, who is a performance poet, community builder and a change agent, came to Oshkosh and gave a powerful speech about issues regarding gender violence. Loveday said when he was younger, he had trouble dealing with the fact men are behind most sexual assault issues, so he decided to use his voice to make a difference. According to Loveday, gender violence is an issue that involves all genders and men need to step up and fight against these issues. “It’s a man’s issue and it’s a women’s issue,” Loveday said. “Men can make a difference by being leaders in their own lives and by being leaders in the community.” According to Loveday, men can stand up against gender violence by looking at their action and inactions and by realizing what each individual says and does can have a major impact on those around them. Loveday said a huge part of fighting against gender violence is to be more than a bystander. “When you hear other people saying things that are sexist, problematic or violent it’s important to intervene and call it out,” Loveday said. “But do it in a way that allows for the discussion to continue and for it to be a learning moment.” Emily Peterson, a sophomore who participated in the walk said Jeremy Loveday was a wonderful speaker and he provided a good message to the campus about gender violence issues. “I thought he sent a very inspiring message to everyone that we are all in this together to end issues such as sexual assault,” Peterson said. “Having a passionate male speaker talk about the different problems happening was a really cool experience.” Morgan Hacker, a participant in the walk said seeing the men walking in high heels was an eye-opening experience. “Watching the guys walk in the heels shows me they really do care about these issues, and that they are willing to put on heels to raise awareness against sexual assault, gender violence and rape,” Hacker said. Sobralski said he learned a lot from wearing the high heels, and he enjoyed seeing the male participants walk around the shoes. “Walking in these shoes is actually really hard,” Sobralski said. “Now I know how women feel when they walk in the shoes, and I give them a lot of credit for it.” Spencer Holms, a fraternity member of Beta Theta Pi, said he learned men need to step up more against gender violence in order to show support and be better members of the community. “Wearing heels is a lot harder than it looks, but it’s for a great cause and a good way to show my support,” Holms said.