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Spreading Awareness in Bright Red Heels

Students Walk for Sexual Violence Prevention

Ed Collier photo for UMass Lowell
Students spread awareness and prevention of sexual violence in the annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event. Photo by Ed Collier.

By Julia Gavin

The questions began as soon as the shoes came out of the boxes.

“Do you wear socks with high heels?”

 “How do you walk in these?”

 “Why do women wear these?”
Dozens of students gathered recently for the third annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event, part of an international effort that raises awareness and prevention of sexual and gender violence trough public walks and education events with male participants wearing red pumps. The Beta Tau chapter of sorority Alpha Sigma Tau (AST) organized the walk with support from Susan Pulido of Health Services. By encouraging people to talk about the issues and support women publicly, the event educates students and raises funds for local crisis centers. This year’s walk benefited the  Center for Hope and Healing and the House of Hope, both of Lowell.

“It’s good that everyone’s having a good time, but this is an important issue and we’re here to put an end to this violence,” said Rep. Tom Golden while welcoming students. “Many people are afraid to talk about sexual violence, but these are the real men here ready to walk in heels and talk about this. They know that this violence has to end and they’ll be the ones out there telling other guys that no, that’s not how you treat a woman, and putting a stop to it.”

The walk, which was a loop from Bourgeois Hall down the Riverwalk to the Tsongas Center and back up a public street, got the young men thinking about issues facing women and the attention of bystanders. 

Fady Sidhom, a criminal justice major, said he was glad to get students talking about how to end sexual violence in such a public show of support for women. 

“My biggest issues are trying to balance and ignore the pain,” said Sidhom who was getting tips on high-heel-wearing from Kelly Sullivan, a recent medical technology graduate and AST sister. “I’ll definitely ice my feet later.”

Shannon Casey, a psychology and peace and conflict studies major from Boston and AST sister, organized the event with help from her sisters and other sorority and fraternity members as part of Greek Week on campus. 

“It’s been awesome to see the support for Walk a Mile in Her Shoes this year,” Casey said. “I’ve learned a lot about the issues surrounding sexual violence and the resources available. I’ve also learned more about how to reach out to the guys and get them talking about tough issues and how all of us should be comfortable talking about this violence to make it stop.”

For pictures from the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event, visit our gallery.