WalkTU raises awareness about sexual violence

The campus walk drew about 200 students to O’Connor Plaza on Wednesday.

Amelia Burns (left) and Tyrell Mann-Barnes (right) hold up the WalkTU sign as they lead students, faculty and staff in Temple's walk to end sexual violence up Polett Walk on Wednesday. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

WalkTU, an event organized by the Wellness Resource Center to target sexual violence on campus, was held in O’Connor Plaza on Wednesday afternoon.

About 185 students joined the walk that left O’Connor Plaza, went to Broad Street and then traveled to Cecil B. Moore Avenue before heading back to the plaza. Several students carried posters reading “Temple students against sexual violence.” A similar walk was organized at the Ambler campus, bringing the total of participants to around 200 students.

The event was previously known as Walk a Mile in Her Shoes before it was revamped as WalkTU last year. The former Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event allowed only male-identified students to participate.

Liz Zadnik, the assistant director of the Wellness Resource Center, said the evolution of the event was a necessary effort to include every student.

“Sexual violence impacts all genders,” said Zadnik, who is also a 2007 women’s studies alumna.  “The Wellness Resource Center wants to make sure prevention and education efforts reflect the needs and realities of all members of the Temple campus community.”

Zadnik added that bringing every voice of the community in the discussion will make prevention more effective.

Amelia Burns, a senior journalism major and president of Student Activists Against Sexual Assault, said her organization had cooperated with the Wellness Resource Center to address the lack of inclusivity of Walk a Mile last year.

“A lot of organizations now show up, and people are invested,” Burns said. “Now that we include more people, we have more perspectives.”

The Wellness Resource Center co-organizes the event with Student Activists Against Sexual Assault, Title IX coordinator Andrea Seiss, Temple Police and Campus Safety Services to bring more voices to the discussion on sexual violence.

At the event, Student Body President Tyrell Mann-Barnes gave opening remarks along with Burns.

“To take a stand means fighting for a mission you include in your life every day,” said Mann-Barnes during his speech.

Burns said that with the event being more inclusive, it raises awareness and strengthens the movement to end sexual violence.

Chimi Boyd-Keyes, one of the main speakers at WalkTU, is a public speaker against sexual violence and co-founder of Helpers and Advocates for Violence Ending Now, a training program that aims to reduce sexual violence on campuses.

“We need an intersectional approach to end gender violence,” said Boyd-Keyes during her speech. “Many voices, many identities are concerned.”

Temple Police and Campus Safety Services also attended the event to reach out to more students. Captain Jeffrey Chapman described the event as an opportunity to educate students.

“The more people are aware, the greater attention this issue is given,” Chapman said. “That way we can work to end it, and we partner with all our constituents.”

Donna Gray, the manager of risk reduction and advocacy services for Campus Safety Services, said very few people report sexual violence-related crimes. By hosting WalkTU, students can learn about available resources and how they can be helped, she said.

For Mann-Barnes, WalkTU must continue to grow for the movement to remain effective.

“I’m excited to see people continue this in the future,” he said.

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