An activity that has been in the discussion stage for staffers at Ferris State University’s Title IX office will become a Sexual Assault Awareness Month presentation Saturday, April 22. Support from WISE, the Women’s Information Service, and the recently-established Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity will allow the Walk A Mile event to take place on the Big Rapids campus, beginning at 2 p.m. that day.
Harley Harrison, a senior from Traverse City, is set to graduate with double majors in Technical and Professional Communications and Spanish. She serves as the student assistant in the Title IX office. Harrison said members of Sigma Lambda Beta will provide music for the event along with serving as volunteers and participants in the march. They will be wearing high heels from the Student Recreation Center entrance, in a walk to the university’s Quad, to raise awareness of workplace sexual harassment and signify the struggles women face while on the job.
“Those who observe our participants will wonder why all these men are walking in heels,” Harrison said. “Many women are objectified daily in the workplace, especially by their bosses or people who are superior to them. We hope that all of our participants have a better understanding of that concept after they're done walking.”
Harrison said the fraternity came to the Title IX office with the offer to serve as a partner in campus outreach.
“I'm not sure we could have done this event without the Sigma Lambda Betas,” Harrison said. “They have a mission of changing rape culture within Greek life. We really enjoy our partnership with the Betas and they set a wonderful example for other groups on campus.”
WISE serves as a crisis intervention and support service operation for clients in Mecosta, Osceola and Newaygo counties. Harrison said a former Title IX office staffer has been a key supporter in establishing the Walk A Mile event.
“Moriah Van Order began duties with WISE as a sexual assault advocate, in September,” Harrison said. “We really enjoy our relationship with WISE and they have been nothing but supportive with every event we have done this year.”
The hope is to have a pair of shoes displayed in the Quad to represent each individual who reported a sexual assault incident as part of the 2018 Campus Climate Survey.
“In 2016, we had over 100 respondents say they had been sexually assaulted during their time here at Ferris,” Harrison said. However, that survey presents a significantly smaller response total than we have this year, so it's expected that the number of reported assaults will go up.”
Harrison said they hope for a strong participant response between 2 and 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, and ask that students seek more information about the Sexual Assault Awareness Month schedule of events, which began Tuesday, April 3.
“All advertising for these events includes an orange symbol,” Harrison said. “That was created by Lady Gaga and is specifically designed to symbolize survival of sexual assault.”
Participants in Walk A Mile are being asked to register with Harrison prior to the event. Anyone with a disability who needs special accommodations to attend
should contact Title IX Coordinator Kevin Carmody by email or by calling (231) 591-2088 at least 72 hours in advance.
PHOTO CAPTION: Walk A Mile, a sexual harassment awareness march will be held on Saturday, April 22, beginning at 2 p.m. outside Ferris State University’s Student Recreation Center. Those who participate will arrive at the campus Quad to find a display of shoes to quantify the prevalence of sexual assault in the university community.