The Sunflower

‘We’ve got to end the stigma’

Wichita State students and community members unite to raise awareness for sexual assault and rape victims

Johnathan+Regier+duck+tapes+his+shoes+to+keep+them+from+falling+off+during+his+mile.
Johnathan Regier duck tapes his shoes to keep them from falling off during his mile.

Johnathan Regier duck tapes his shoes to keep them from falling off during his mile.

Joseph Barringhaus

Joseph Barringhaus

Johnathan Regier duck tapes his shoes to keep them from falling off during his mile.

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It’s not every day hundreds of men walk around campus in high heels.

The Student Activities Council and the Interfraternity Council joined forces to raise awareness for the harsh realities of sexual assault, rape, and gender violence with their “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event.

In 2001, a man named Frank Baird created the walk, which is participated in annually in cities from coast to coast.

The Interfraternity Council’s involvement with the event is an effort to put an end to the association between Greek Life and sexual violence.

“I think it is a really good event for Greek Life. Unfortunately, there is a stigma for a lot of Greek men out there in the country,” Student Body Vice President Breck Towner said. “I think it’s important for Greek men to come together on campus and show unity for bringing awareness to sexual assault, rape, and gender violence.”

Joseph Barringhaus
A group of guys compare which heels have the sharpest tip before starting the long mile.

Although the title of the event focuses on women who have been raped or sexually assaulted, men who have faced the same circumstances were not forgotten.

“You always hear the statistics how men are more likely to commit suicide. They never like to come out and talk about mental health or events that could traumatize them,” sophomore Victoria Morris said. “I think if we end the stigma, we can help men feel more welcomed and more willing to talk about what’s going on in their lives.”

Before the actual walk started, the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center shared some statistics to shed light on how many people are affected by sexual assault, rape, and gender violence: Every two minutes, someone commits a rape in the United States, and one in four women along with one in six men will be a victim of some form of sexual assault.

“This is important to me because I personally am a victim of sexual violence and I want to be an advocate for people that do not have the same voice that I do,” sophomore Thomas Sutherland said. “It is very prevalent on college campuses, and if we don’t acknowledge it, it makes people feel like they’re alone.”

Joseph Barringhaus
Andres Balderas (left) and Igor Matvieiev (right) help each other up the stairs after a painful mile.

David and Donna Vogelpohl traveled from Tulsa, Oklahoma specifically for the event. They made it their goal to go to every such event in the United States. So far, they have participated in six states: Utah, Minnesota, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

“I do it just because I have friends and relatives that have been sexually abused, and bad marriages,” David Vogelpohl said. “You got to teach the kids and bring them up right and just to understand that violence towards anybody is just not right.”

Although they have traveled to many states and participated at many “Walk a Mile” events, Vogelpohl said he was impressed with the turnout at Wichita State.

“They’re trying to make a difference and change. I’m really surprised; I went to many colleges, but this one is really neat,” David said. “There are a lot of guys that showed up and I’m impressed, really.”

Alexis Crowther, an outreach advocate from the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center, will serve as Wichita State’s advisor on campus. Crowther is currently in the process of getting an office in the RSC, and can be contacted at [email protected].

Crowther will be available to students and faculty who need to talk about sexual assault, rape, and gender violence.

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