At the corner of Taylor Street and East Packer Avenue on Wednesday, a gap in the long line of men formed when a professor got his bright red heel caught in a sidewalk crack.
“I’m struggling,” the professor said. “Just go on without me.”
Athletes, fraternity men and faculty members alike participated in the third annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes— The International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault and Gender Violence” hosted by Lambda Theta Alpha Sorority Inc., along with Alpha Chi Omega sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., the Women’s Center and Break the Silence.
“It was a challenge,” said Scott Grant, ’16, a brother of Kappa Alpha Psi.
But numerous men accepted this challenge as more than 50 walked down Memorial Walkway to Taylor Street, then Packer Avenue, then Brodhead Avenue to return to Memorial Walkway — all while wearing heels up to 3 inches in height.
The event’s purpose was to get the community talking about gender relations and sexual violence, topics that are often difficult to discuss.
Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs Tyrone Russell spoke just before the walk commenced, first asking the group of men to raise a hand if any of them had a friend who referred to women in a derogatory way. Almost instantly, most participants had their hands raised.
“I think one of my favorite parts about the event was just Tyrone’s speech,” said Dalisbeth Galvez, ’14, a sister of Lambda Theta Alpha Sorority Inc. and the head coordinator of the event. “I feel like his speech really resonated with people.”
Russell spoke on a microphone about his experiences with indirect and direct gender violence in high school.
“Little did I know the entire time that I was betting (my friend) to talk to women, listening to him call women bitches and disrespecting them with his words, that on the low I was saying it’s OK to do whatever you want to them,” Russell said.
He challenged the men there to think about the language they used and how that language would ultimately dictate their actions and the way that they view and treat other people.
“We’re quick to stand up when we see that physical violence take place, but the violence starts well before someone puts their hands on someone else,” he said. “The violence starts with the thinking that (disrespecting women) is OK.”
Lambda Theta Alpha hosts this event once every other year. All donations went to Turning Point of Lehigh Valley, a place where local abuse victims can find refuge.
But aside from bringing awareness to these serious issues, the walk forced men to endure the mountainous campus in heels, something that women at Lehigh often do out of necessity.
“It definitely gave me an appreciation for the walking (girls) do up and down the hill all the time,” Addison Berniker, ’17, said after being one of the first ones to complete the mile.
Grant — minutes after his completion — agreed.
“I want to start a movement to have women stop wearing heels — only wear flats,” he said. “I care about you all.”
Story by Brown and White lifestyle writer Gabby Romano, ’16.