UMN Greek life holds annual event to raise awareness of sexual violence

The event comes as University Greek life faces pressure to address sexual misconduct.

Greek life members sign a banner Tuesday on East Bank. Members of Greek life held their 4th annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event to make a stance against sexual assault.

Chris Dang

Greek life members sign a banner Tuesday on East Bank. Members of Greek life held their 4th annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event to make a stance against sexual assault.

Max Chao

Hundreds of Greek life members and other students participated in an event to raise sexual assault awareness Tuesday evening.

Several University of Minnesota Greek life leadership groups organized the fourth annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event to raise awareness for sexual and domestic assault and support survivors.

The event began at 7 p.m. and was attended by about 300 people. Fraternity and sorority members carried red ribbons around the Mall area and to the front of Northrop Auditorium.

The event was also part of a campus-wide fundraiser for the Aurora Center.

“It’s been great every year, but I think that this is the best showing that we’ve had,” said Interfraternity Council President Simon Beck.

The event, which was met with a counter protest, comes amid increased pressure on University Greek life to more seriously combat sexual misconduct by members.

Organizers originally planned to cross the Washington Avenue Bridge twice, but the route changed because of another event protesting the walk.

About 30 people gathered for the protest. The smaller group first gathered in front of Anderson Hall to discuss sexual assault and their experiences before following the Greek crowd chanting, “frat boys stop raping people” and, “racist, sexist, anti-gay, tell these frats to go away.”

“I came out because I am a survivor of sexual violence and this is very important to me,” said protester Charlotte Schiller.

University student Haleigh Ortmeier-Clarke, a sexual assault survivor who spoke at the smaller event, said afterward that she didn’t support the group’s actions toward the Greek’s event after her speech.

“There is improvement that can be made to Greek life, but working together not against each other is the answer,” she said.

After the Greek life walk, survivors Russell Barnes and Abby Honold, spoke about their own experiences with sexual assault in Greek life and answered submitted questions from the Greek communities.

“I really think that holding this event shows the Greek community’s commitment to helping victim-survivors,” Barnes said, adding it would be important to keep the momentum of this activism.

Correction: A part of this story has been edited to more accurately reflect the change in routes for the greek life walk.