By GARRIC BUZZARD – OPINIONS EDITOR
The annual Interfraternity Council (IFC) and PanHellenic Council (PHC) sponsored Walk-a-mile in her shoes event occurred this past Saturday, Oct. 7. The event sought to raise awareness about power-based violence, which is defined as violence in which someone uses power, control or intimidation in order to harm another person. Along with many facts about power-based violence, the main attraction exhibited many Centre men strutting their stuff in bright red heels.
The men, including myself, began our arduous journey in front of Crounse, where the ADPis encouraged our hesitant first steps. We proceeded to Old Centre, where the Tri Deltas supported us as the pain of heels began to dig into to our feet. We met the Thetas in front of the Campus Center, where we were beginning to doubt our decision to participate.
We continued our trek down Main Street to Forth Street, where we took a much-needed break. We continued down Forth Street and headed back towards campus via Walnut Street. The Kappas found us tumbling in front of the Norton Center, and some of those wonderful ladies literally carried us back to Crounse. Along with the blisters we developed, we acquired a newfound respect for heel-wearers everywhere.
The collective conscience begs the questions, “Is this issue even relevant today in the 21 Century?” And even more importantly, “Is it relevant on Centre’s campus?” The annual Security and Fire Report shows that Centre has had no reported forcible or non-forcible sexual offenses in the past year.
“As one in four college-aged women are survivors of sexual assault, power-based violence is relevant on every campus, and Centre is no exception. Most survivors do not come forward about these crimes because Centre is such a tight knit community, creating a culture of silence,” senior and PHC President Sarah Cramer said.
It would appear then, the strong sense of community on Centre’s campus distracts from the reality of the issue.
“There is no doubt that instances of power-based violence occur everywhere and are especially more prevalent on college campuses, Centre is no exception to this. We all think of Centre as a campus where we know everyone and everything that goes on, but that in no way means that instances of sexual assault or other power-based violence don’t occur,” said senior and IFC Executive Vice President Connor Stubbs.
However, the event isn’t without its flaws. Power-based violence is a difficult and sensitive subject to approach. For many using the humor of men parading in bright red high heels allows people to approach the subject in much more relaxed fashion. This approach may be flawed.
“Even though Walk-a-mile is good and I like it, there is a question of how could the event be done better. The basic premise is that the event is amusing, but sexual violence is not an amusing topic,” senior Michael Fryar said.
We then face a difficult problem: would we as a community and a society be able to have conversations about power-based violence and other challenging topics without humor to introduce the topics? And if the humor is inappropriate, how then can we introduce the topics in an effective manner?
There is a deeper level of representation in the Walk-a-mile event. The physical pain of walking a mile in high heels, a feat many women would avoid, is seen to represent the physical and emotional trauma experienced by the victims. It is in no way comparable to the suffering of the victims, but the parallel exists.
The spectators may find the event humorous and conversation provoking. At the same time, the participants gain a deeper understanding of the victims torment. While the world we live in is far from perfect, it is comfortable to know that events like Walk-a-mile strive to promote awareness and a shift towards perfection.