Laughlin Hentz, a Keene State sophomore majoring in theatre arts, showed up at the Lloyd P. Young Student Center at nine in the morning on Saturday, April 27, with leopard print heels in hand and a purpose in mind.
That purpose: To walk a mile in her shoes.
This past Saturday, Keene State hosted the thirteenth Annual Walk a Mile event. The event is used to raise awareness of sexual assault, rape, and gender violence experienced in the community and in the world.
Hentz said he has close ties with these issues. Last year one of Hentz’s close friends told him about the times she had experienced sexual assault and harassment both on and off campus.
“[She] told me [about the times] she’s been assaulted on a public bus or at parties where guys think they can just put their hands on her,” Hentz explained. “Things like this make me unbelievably angry. To be a guy myself… [I] think it unfathomable to touch a woman in that way and [I] find it so disrespectful and awful…”
Hentz’s friend is not alone in her experiences. According to an article published by RAINN.org, “11.2 percent of all students [on college campuses] experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.” The article also discussed how prevalent sexual violence is for college women compared to the total population of women, “College women are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted than robbed.” However, the total population of women are more likely to be robbed than sexually assaulted.
Kelli Jo Harper, the interim Title IX coordinator, spoke about why it is so important to have an event like Walk A Mile on a college campus.
“[Walk A Mile] is incredibly important, I think it really can help support awareness around the issues of sexual violence… I really think it can show some solidarity that these are issues that the college takes seriously, our college community takes seriously, and also the wider community as well…” Harper said.
Harper spoke in depth about the resources Title IX provides for those suffering in silence. Title IX supports students who have had experiences surrounding these issues with everything from filling out a formal report with Keene State to reporting incidents to the Keene Police Department.
Walk A Mile is just one of the many events on campus that draws attention to the issues of sexual violence. This event also draws a crowd, the majority of which belongs to Greek life.
Alexander Castro, a sophomore at Keene State and a safety major, participated in the event with his fraternity, Phi Lambda Chi.
“This is what we do every year, we come out here and support and do our part,” Castro explained while waiting for the march into downtown Keene to start.
Phi Sigma Sigma, one of Keene State College’s sororities, helped run the event.
Alexandra Phillips, one of the Phi Sigma Sigma members, shared her own thoughts on the event.
“I think it is really important for us to have these kind of events, especially on a college campus because I feel like that’s where a lot of this kind of stuff happens,” Phillips said. “My sorority participates every year in Walk A Mile.”
Hentz marched Saturday in the Walk A Mile event in support of his friends and the many more who have been directly affected by sexual violence.
Claire Boughton can be
contacted at email@example.com