Typically, on a day like Wednesday each year, one would see hundreds of students, faculty and staff alike walking up the Hill at UT, often sporting stylish heeled shoes as they do so.
This is because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the annual Hike the Hill in Heels event allows participants to come together and stand united in solidarity for those who have been victims of sexual assault — all while wearing heels, although the shoe choice is optional.
Hike the Hill in Heels was started in 2015 by the Center for Health Education and Wellness in order to raise awareness about sexual assault and particularly that which occurs on college campuses.
Sexual assault is very prevalent at colleges in America. A study done by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center shows that one in every five women and one in every 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, and every 73 seconds someone is sexually assaulted.
CHEW says that Hike the Hill in Heels is all about seeing sexual assault from another perspective.
“To walk in a mile in someone’s shoes is to spend time trying to understand someone else’s perspective,” the event description said.
The actual event is meant to educate and bring a community together. This year, amid COVID-19 concerns, the sixth annual Hike the Hill in Heels was held virtually.
Participants were asked to walk 0.6 mi, or one km, while practicing safe social distancing and log it via the JustMOVE app. Participants have to complete the walk before the end of the day on Wednesday to count as part of the event, but the walk can be done by yourself on your own time to stand in solidarity throughout the month.
Among those walking today were UT System President Randy Boyd and Chancellor Donde Plowman.
As of the night before the event, CHEW had 55 participants logging their walk in the app, a vast difference from the usual 400.
Michèle Dorsainvil, the interim director of CHEW, said that she is excited that the center can still host the hike despite it now being virtual, and she hopes that more people are planning on joining at some point.
“Right now 55 participants have joined the virtual platform, but we’re hoping that more people will join tomorrow and that people might participate without officially joining the platform,” Dorsainvil said.
She also stated that there are still several events this month that CHEW is holding virtually as well such as Yoga for Healing, which can also be done anytime. Check out CHEW’s website for more information and a list of this month’s events.
Additionally, a talk with the founder of the “Me Too” movement, which raises awareness about the prevalence of sexual assault in society, Tarana Burke, was rescheduled for September.
Consider filling out the Sexual Assault Awareness Month climate survey, which will help provide the center with more information going forward about education.
Another on-campus resource that collaborated on Hike the Hill in Heels and provides services for those in need is the Office of Title IX. They handle any incidents regarding sexual misconduct, relationship violence, stalking and retaliation.
Although the format of this year’s event was different, the cause and meaning remained the same as Hike the Hill in Heels aimed to bring together and educate members of the UT community.