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A Walk in Her Shoes

The Walk in Her Shoes event promotes healthy masculinity and awareness about gender violence. Photo by Traeton Harimon / Antelope Staff

In a collective effort to promote healthy masculinity, the Office for Intercultural Engagement and Leadership held its fourth annual “A Walk in Her Shoes March” in partnership with UNK Fraternity & Sorority Life. 

The event aims to raise awareness about gender violence, bringing together a diverse array of participants who were there demonstrating on behalf of the campus’s commitment to promote healthy masculinity.

Luis Olivas, the director of the Office for Intercultural Engagement and Leadership, described the origins of the event and its evolution over the years. 

“This is the fourth year that we have done this, and when it began, it was because we wanted to build awareness around Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is in October,” Olivas said. “In conjunction with Fraternity and Sorority Life, we identified a group of students – the fraternity men – that could participate in this, while the sororities participate in ‘Power of Tampons,’ where they collect menstrual products throughout the month of October.

Before the march commenced, male participants took a solemn pledge to stand up against gender violence. As they embarked on their walk in high heels, male participants symbolized their dedication to better understanding the struggles faced by those affected by gender violence.

The event’s impact on the UNK community and awareness of gender violence was a central theme.

“I think that we, as men or folks that identify as men, cannot say we understand exactly what women go through each and every day,” Olivas said. “This is a quick snapshot. The important part about this is to not trivialize the experiences of women on our campus and in our communities but to simply create awareness about what is out there.”

Ethan Ciancio, student body vice president, highlighted the importance of events like this in promoting empathy and healthy masculinity on campus. 

“It’s really eye-opening,” Cianco said. “A lot of people don’t give it a second thought, but then you go walk 500 feet, and my feet hurt. Being able to experience this is the first time I have done it. Now we get to have a small glimpse of what women go through.”

The physical challenge of walking in high heels was not lost on Ciancio. 

“The first step I took, I nearly broke my ankle because I walked a lot on the sides of my feet,” Ciancio said. “I then had to learn to walk on my toes rather than my heels.”

Temo Molina, student body president and student regent, emphasized the crucial role of advocacy and empathy in addressing gender violence. 

“I think it’s very important, and everyone should be involved in it,” Molina said. “The flags that were carried say, ‘women’s rights are human rights,’ and that couldn’t be truer. That kind of awareness is super important.”

Molina also discussed the ongoing commitment to the cause. 

“Beyond this event, we intend to do a lot of work within student government,” Molina said. “Last year, we dedicated a committee toward diversity, equity and inclusion. Those sorts of steps really address the kinds of experiences that various students on our campus go through.”

The event, which Olivas said saw one of the largest turnouts to date, sent a clear message of support and solidarity. Molina highlighted the visibility of the event. 

“Seeing everyone’s shoes shows that maybe it’s not just people talking but absolutely doing something about it and showing their support,” Molina said. “It makes it so women can see and not just hear that they’re supported.”

Each year, “A Walk in Her Shoes March” provides an opportunity for the UNK community to come together and promote a culture of empathy and inclusivity on campus. The event creates an environment where everyone’s experiences are acknowledged, struggles validated and where individuals can find support where they don’t have to walk alone. 

Photos by Traeton Harimon / Antelope Staff

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