It has become the most popular campus event during Utah State University’s April observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” awareness event and fundraiser is Wednesday, April 7. Rachel Brighton is Coordinator of the Sexual Assault and Anti-Violence (SAAVI) office at USU. “It’s now an international event,” she said. “It all started in Van Nuys, California with a man named Frank Baird who proposed this idea and it just caught fire. It’s such a positive way for people to make a difference. “It’s hard to miss a hoard of men walking down the sidewalk with banners and in all kinds of shoes and heels. It definitely draws a lot of attention.” Brighton said most men are not violent. “Most men are good guys. Given the opportunity they would absolutely be willing to step forward and take a stand against violence. Peers will follow along, too. That’s why it’s so exciting to have so many different men that are willing stand up and voice opinions on this topic.” She said money raised comes from sponsors. “A lot of the walkers are encouraged to have their friends and family members sponsor their walk. We even have some small incentives for those with the most money raised. This is a dual event, it raises awareness but it also raises money to enhance what we’re able to do here on campus, as we partner with others in the community.” Brighton said the campus SAAVI office has a couple of different purposes. “First, we do a lot of education,” she said, “It’s important we create a space where it’s okay for us to talk about this. It’s a really critical issue that impacts not only women, but also men and children, all ages. This is an ‘everyone’ issue, not just a women’s issue. “We’re also here as a victim advocate for anyone on campus, male or female, students and faculty and staff. We provide direct services to those who have experienced rape, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence or stalking. And we’re also here to support friends and family members as they try to make a difference for their loved ones.” During Wednesday’s event, walkers choose between four walking rounds at 10:20 a.m., 11:20 a.m., 12:20 p.m. and 1:20 p.m. Information is available at www.usu.edu/saavi.
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