ASU Army ROTC members run in heels to support sexual assault awareness month

Blisters, sweat and perhaps a little bit of blood was the sight at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex on Monday, when the men and women of ASU Army ROTC braved the Arizona heat to run in fabulous (and some not-so-fabulous) heels to raise awareness of sexual assault. 

On Monday afternoon, ASU Army ROTC program hosted the event, "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes," which consisted of students in the ROTC program wearing heels and running 1.26 miles as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. 

History senior and ROTC member Tanner Bailey said despite the pain he felt running in heels, it was a great experience because he enjoyed running for an issue that was not just important for the military.

“(Sexual assault) is something that the Army has made very important recently,” Bailey said. “I didn’t mind running in shoes because of the message behind the event. I would definitely do it again.”

Nursing freshman and ROTC member Marissa Flores said the running was hard, but in the end, she was glad she decided to participate in the event.

“When you start off the race, you feel great,” Flores said. “Towards the end it starts going downhill, and you really feel the pain. But the blisters I got were completely worth it.”

When ASU Army ROTC decided to hold an event for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it realized walking a mile in high heels would bring school-wide attention to such an important issue, ROTC Cdt./Corporal Alexis Johnson said.

“The purpose of the event is to create a basis of understanding about sexual violence, stigmas and rape culture in the military as well as in our community and to reinforce standards of behavior, active bystander mentality and to be peer advisers to one's unit and community,” Johnson said. “By walking in heels, the hope is to instill standards of behavior that will resonate.”

Johnson said they chose this event because the powerful message of the heels would be best at capturing the community’s attention.

“The heels represent the rise of sexual assault within our community," she said. "Though the heels may feel one-sided, only acknowledging that females suffer the horrors of rape and sexual assault, that is not the case. The event is a synopses of the problem that both men and women suffer in our community and society through the stigmas, rape culture and lack of respect and education.”

Criminal justice major Trenton Kennedy, who also participated in the event, said he hopes the message just doesn’t stop when the event ends.

“I hope the ASU community can take away that this is a real issue that happens every day. It's OK to talk about it even though it's a touchy subject,” Kennedy said. “I hope that when people in the ASU community see or are about to witness sexual harassment or sexual assault that they intervene. They could potentially save someone's life.”

Reach the reporter at sgreene6@asu.edu or follow @thesydneygreene on Twitter.

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