BOCA RATON, Fla. -
While college campuses are often known for their eclectic atmospheres featuring frequent causes, events and voices, one thing that you are not as likely to see on a typical day is a group of men walking down the sidewalk wearing high heels. This was the sight on Thursday afternoon at Florida Atlantic University’s Boca Raton campus as student-athletes and others donned high-heeled shoes as part of the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® initiative to raise awareness of sexual assault and gender violence.
For the second year, student-athletes joined their fellow Owls in getting people to talk about the serious causes, effects and remediation of sexual assault and violence by walking down the Breezeway in high heels. A Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® Event is abundant with opportunities to get the conversation started about preventative education and the services available for those in need.
“I think it is a great event to show respect for women and what they go through on a day-to-day basis,” said FAU football punter Ryan Rickel. “It’s on us to help encourage change, and we were happy to show our support.”
“Sexual assault is a terrible ongoing issue that can be stopped. We just need help to raise awareness,” added FAU football kicker and SAAC Vice President Greg Joseph. “We had a good turnout which shows it is a cause people care about.”
This is just one way that FAU Athletics is recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month during April. The Student-Athlete Center for Academic Excellence (SACAE) has developed several workshops to educate its student-athletes on topics ranging from consent to relationship abuse to bystander intervention.
“The FAU athletic department from the top down is fully committed to preventing sexual assault and violence and being an advocate for victims,” said SACAE Director and Associate AD Eric Coleman. “April 3-7 is Sexual Assault Awareness Week on the FAU campus but our athletic department decided to go a step further and extend it for the entire month.”
The SACAE and SAAC also teamed up to hold another One Love Foundation workshop to educate even more Owls about preventing relationship violence. SAAC members Breanna Saukas, Greg Joseph, Justin Massey and Frank Booker were trained to be facilitators and used that ability to spread the message among 40 of their student-athlete peers. SACAE Director Coleman will also hold an additional One Love workshop for the FAU coaches who work with each of FAU’s 21 teams.
“The One Love Escalation Workshops allowed us to be more aware of a potential abusive relationship and the potential signs,” said SAAC President and FAU senior swimmer Breanna Saukas. “It was really eye opening to note how many college students have been affected by this, and it encouraged us to want to raise more awareness on the subject.”
Part of the ongoing mission of both athletics and the university is to provide an environment where students and student-athletes feel safe to learn and grow, the SACAE, Owls Care and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) have collaborated to develop Student-Athletes Advocating for Victims Everyday (SAVE). SAVE, which will began in the fall of 2017, is a comprehensive program that will empower student-athletes to use their voice to facilitate change on their campus and in their communities, as they advocate against violence and for high moral standard for all students.