The group walked around McCorkle Place and Polk Place to raise awareness for sexual assault Thursday afternoon, and Cassie Dephinia hula-hooped the entire course.
“Hula-hooping helped me get back into my body after surviving childhood sexual assault,” she said. “It actually helps me say, ‘These are my boundaries, and if anyone crosses this line, I get to say no.’”
Sigma Phi Society and Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority organized “Walk a Mile” to spark conversations about sexual assault and bring the issue to students’ attention.
While unexpected rain did not move the event inside, organizers decided to forgo their idea of having participants switch into a new pair of shoes for the walk.
The shoes, bought from thrift stores in the area, sat on McCorkle Place until Sigma Phi members packed them up.
“It’s more a symbol than anything,” said freshman Sami Lachgar, a member of Sigma Phi.
“I think that having this event is really what brings us all together, so obviously with the rain it makes it more difficult, but the heart of the event comes from the discussions that come from it.”
An estimated $2,000 in proceeds from the walk went to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. In 2014, the OCRCC served 601 clients.
“This isn’t an issue that’s going to go away here,” said Mike Catalano, Sigma Phi vice president, who helped organized the event. “People need to be reminded that this is a conversation that is going to continue to happen.”
Catalano said “Walk a Mile” is one of the only philanthropic events that representatives from the Interfraternity Council, the Greek Alliance Council, the Panhellenic Council and the National Pan-Hellenic Council collaborated on.
“I think any opportunity to have this conversation with other Greek organizations is something that we haven’t done,” he said.
“We also just want people to be able to sit and learn from others who maybe know a little bit more or are maybe a little bit more comfortable talking about it.”
Junior Radha Patel participated in the walk.
“The issue of sexual assault has become more talked about on this campus, and I’ve just been learning it’s more prevalent than what I thought before,” Patel said. “I thought this would be a good way to show support.”
The idea for Walk a Mile came in 2014 from Peter Vogel, a member of Sigma Phi and The Daily Tar Heel’s editorial board, and the fraternity decided to pursue the idea and reach out to Kappa Kappa Gamma to help organize.
“Sexual assault is a woman’s issue and a man’s issue, and it’s something that needs to be addressed at UNC,” said Sonia Schrager, Kappa Kappa Gamma member. “So we got involved just to raise awareness on UNC’s campus and show that survivors at UNC are very supported by this community.”
Catalano said he hopes to make Walk a Mile a yearly event.