Would you rather go an entire day without shoes or walk a mile in stilettos? Students at St. Ambrose could do both on April 16 and 17.
Tuesday, April 16 was “One Day Without Shoes,” sponsored by the TOMS Club. Students could choose to go barefoot for the day and then go to a concert that night for live music, prizes and other activities.
While the event is nationwide, the TOMS Club at St. Ambrose helped spread the word and plan the concert.
Few students dared to go bare all day, but 115 showed up the night’s festivities, compared to last year’s 45.
While TOMS Club Co-President Abby Tichler was happy with the night’s increased numbers, she was disappointed that more people didn’t support the underlying cause.
“It’s not that people weren’t aware because everyone I talked to knew,” she said. “I think the majority of students on the SAU campus are apathetic. They don’t have school spirit and they don’t participate in extra-curricular events.”
While she doesn’t know exactly how many people participated, she knows the number was small.
“The past two years we have held a “One Day Without Shoes” and there have been only a handful of students willing to participate,” Tichler added. “Going barefoot for a whole day is a tough thing to do. It’s painful on your feet. People will stare at you, and you have to be really proud of what you’re doing to be able to participate, not to mention it was a really cold day.”
The cause wasn’t lost though, because there were a few bare soles seen around campus. Four of these feet belonged to freshman Laura Bush and sophomore Natalie Woodhurst.
Both participated to support people in other countries that have to bear the weather everyday.
“I feel that people overlook this issue,” Bush said. “They take wearing shoes for granted.”
Woodhurst thinks people are hesitant to participate because they don’t want to go against the norm.
However, Bush and Woodhurst enjoyed the experience and plan to do it against next year.
“It was weird at first because it was so cold out,” Woodhurst said. “My toes went numb. When it started warming up, I kind of liked it.”
“I got used to not wearing shoes,” Bush said. “Initially, I was cautious about where I was walking and tended to keep my head down to watch each step, but after awhile it started to feel normal. I enjoyed walking on the sidewalk and in the grass, but the asphalt was terrible! You are way more aware of your sense of touch.”
The following day, men played Cinderella to show their support for sexual assault awareness.
“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” required men to walk an entire mile in heels, flats or flip flops. 54 men participated on campus, a number SAAT Student Coordinator Lindsey Mack was very happy with.
This was despite the heavy rain that forced the event inside to the rack in Lee Lohman. Normally, the guys walk around campus for everyone to see. This year, they still carried signs that read things like “Rape affects everyone” and “Are you man enough to walk a mile in her shoes?” while sporting glitzy spiked heels or flower-decorated flip-flops.
The event has a way of gathering attention, but Mack thinks it’s for an important cause.
“Especially being on a small campus, people don’t realize that it happens here, and it really does,” she said. “You get guys aware that it happens too, and for them to show support like this really means a lot to us girls.”
Tim Phillips, Dean of Students and participant in “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” agrees.
“I think it’s important, for us as men, to be in a position where we’re uncomfortable or where we’re asked to do something out of the norm,” he said. “It helps us to think more deeply about the issue in front of us.”
Many couldn’t finish the full mile in the heels and changed into flats or flip-flops. Phillips, however, walked the entire thing in a pair of long black boots with a spiky heel.
“Yeah, my feet are tired,” he said good-humoredly after the event. “You know, I think it’s that awareness. I see high heels everyday, I just don’t happen to wear them. So to be in those and to try to understand what it must take to get conditioned to wear those, let alone to feel like you should, it makes me think twice.”