DuBOIS, Pa. — Several men representing students, faculty and staff at Penn State DuBois took to the streets, or at least the sidewalks around campus, wearing high-heel shoes during the annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event, held on Sept. 13. With a goal of helping to raise awareness of the ongoing battle against rape, sexual assault and gender violence, the event was organized by PASSAGES, a victim-advocacy group that represents Clarion, Clearfield and Jefferson counties, and the Office of Student Engagement at Penn State DuBois.
The group of men, all wearing red high-heels, walked a full mile starting on campus, then along state Route 255 on the front side of campus and finally down Liberty Boulevard before turning around and walking the same route back to complete their mile-long journey.
Speaking to everyone before the walk began, Jalen Kosko, a second-year mechanical engineering major at Penn State DuBois, said, “It’s very important to really try to put myself in a women’s shoes because the truth is men and women are very different. There may be many thoughts and fears that often occur to women that might not cross my mind.”
While Kosko noted that, to his knowledge, none of the women in his life have been victims, the message of the event and the idea that abuse could happen to someone important to him has crossed his mind.
“I have a mother; I have a sister. I don’t even want to imagine how I would feel if they were sexually assaulted,” Kosko said. “Imagine these things happening to a loved one of yours. It’s a horrifying thought.”
Alaina Shaffer, prevention education coordinator at PASSAGES, shared some impactful statistics and information with participants upon their return to campus.
“According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, every 68 seconds, someone in America is sexually assaulted,” Shaffer said. “Nine out of 10 of these victims are women. They are our sisters, mothers, classmates, friends, teachers, co-workers, strangers walking past us on the street, and so many more. You’ve walked the walk, now it’s time to talk the talk in your classes, your locker rooms, your practices and in your everyday lives.”
“Realize that gender violence is a men’s issue that affects women that you care about,” Shaffer added. “Don’t remain silent, confront the abusive behavior of other males.”
Throughout the mile walk, members of the community who passed by in their vehicles honked their horns in support of the walkers and the cause.