Alpha Kappa Alpha hosts march for sexual assault awareness


Lan Nguyen/The Daily Northwestern

Members of Alpha Kappa Alpha organized a march Wednesday for sexual assault awareness. Many participants, including some male students, wore heels during the event, “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.”

Jordan Harrison, Assistant Campus Editor

In an effort to raise awareness about gender-based violence, rape and sexual assault, male and female students marched Wednesday night from The Arch to Elder Hall in high heels.

The event, called “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” was presented by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and co-sponsored by Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators.

SESP junior Ceara Jemison, treasurer of Alpha Kappa Alpha and the chair of the event, said the heels served to represent women affected by sexual assault.

“We’re encouraging men and women to wear heels,” she said. “It’s kind of symbolic, walk a mile in her shoes. (Most) sexual assault victims are female, so that’s where the heels come in.”

Jemison also said Alpha Kappa Alpha wanted to focus on sexual assault on college campuses this year in light of recent sexual assault cases at Northwestern and increased discussion about the topic. Participants chanted phrases such as “yes means yes and no means no” throughout the march.

“This year we have signs that are just from college statistics,” Jemison said. “Especially with the recent happenings on Northwestern’s campus and especially with the way the university responded to the issue, I feel like this is a very prevalent cause for the campus.”

She said the march was one of other similar marches nationally and that this is the third year Alpha Kappa Alpha has hosted the event at NU.

SESP junior Nicole Reed, incoming president of the sorority and a member of SHAPE, spoke briefly after the march.

“Sexual violence is a really important subject,” she said. “It doesn’t just happen for females. It also happens for males. It’s not heteronormative; it can happen in LGBTQ relationships as well, so this is a really important walk for us to raise awareness.”

Weinberg freshman Warren Long said he walked most of the way in borrowed heels, but they didn’t fit and started to break about three quarters of the way through.

“I’m an athlete,” he said. “I have good balance, so if the heels would’ve fit it wouldn’t have been an issue.”

He said he thought men played an important role in raising awareness for sexual assault.

“Usually it’s men doing those acts, but the whole thing is men are victims too, so I know it’s not one-sided,” he said. “I do think men should be obligated to raise awareness about it.”

Debra Hill (SESP ’71, ’72), the sorority’s graduate adviser, said the attendance at the march has increased since its first year.

“The first year we maybe had 15 people,” she said. “We did have one brave guy that actually made it the whole mile in heels. He was crying by the time we got here. His feet hurt, but he got here.”

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