The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


IFC & SAPA host ‘Walk A Mile in Her Shoes’


(Photos/Sean Smith)

With the click-clacking of red high heels against the pavement in Spirit Park, over one hundred men dressed in teal and blue gathered in support of sexual assault prevention and awareness. 

The Interfraternity Council and the Sexual Assault Prevention Ambassadors partnered together April 8 to host Walk A Mile in Her Shoes: The International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence on campus.

The walk began in Spirit Park at 11:30 am and ended in Fraternity Row around 12:30. 

“It’s a way for students to get involved on campus and in their communities to dedicate themselves to ending sexual violence.” Brocato said. “Specifically, it’s a way for men to get involved in ending sexualized violence as well.” 

Multiple resources were offered before the event started. Cash Money, a beloved campus therapy dog, was there as a comfort during the emotionally powerful day.

The Shafer Center for Crisis Intervention in Hattiesburg was there to offer information, and the proceeds from the walk went towards the center. 

The Shafer Center is recognized for aiding survivors with coping of sexual violence and assault, homocide and suicide.

SAPA ambassadors were walking around the event, offering teal stickers for the color of Sexual Assault Awareness, information and resouces about their campus organization and personal accounts about their struggles. 

The IFC was at the event to promote a safe space and show that the USM fraternities support the survivors. IFC President Jonathan Jenkins was at the event to accept the stigma surrounding fraternities.

“I’m glad we’re partnering to see how we can be a useful resource to end sexual assault instead of just trying to shut [IFC] down,” Jenkins said.

.The event’s route ran through USM’s fraternity row. (Photo/Sean Smith)

The president of SAPA, Bella Brocato, partnered with the Committee Chair for Walk A Mile in Her Shoes, Cara Barker, to present the event. 

Brocato and Barker lead the event through campus. (Photo/Sean Smith)

Barker was especially familiar with the pain that surrounds sexual assault and violence, as she is a survivor herself. 

“My freshman year, I was assaulted on campus, and that changed the trajectory of a lot of things for me. The campus culture was a lot different then.” Barker said. 

Jaborius Ball, the Director of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement, was the keynote speaker of the event. 

Standing downstage at Southern Station, Ball shared his truth and recounted memories of his own struggles with suicide. 

Ball provided hope to the survivors, and encouraged those in the crowd to be a guiding light and source of inspiration to all those that have suffered around them.

After Ball completed his heartening speech, the march began. Some men walked in red stilettos, high-heeled boots or even pumps. 

Though some heels were broken at the end of the walk, and feet were blistered, their mile was complete.

Brocato and Barker embrace during the event. (Photo/Sean Smith)

“This event would have never happened and these conversations would have never happened,” Barker said. “So holding this event, it shows the change that can happen and that is continuously happening.” 

If you are a survivor or are in need of support, the USM Title IX office is available on the first floor of the library towards the back, or they can be contacted at 601.266.6804. 

Text HOME or HELP to 741741 for 24/7 support from the Crisis Text Line. SAPA and Title IX can also offer other services to survivors and those that have faced sexual violence, harassment or assault.

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