Ball State students ‘walked a mile in her shoes’ for sexual assault, domestic violence march at University Green

As people clung to their jackets holding protest signs and wind blew through University Green, several men picked a pair of heels in their size from a table and began buckling them onto their feet. With different heel height variations, the men gathered with women to “walk a mile in [their] shoes,” and to march in awareness of violent crimes against women.

On Saturday, the Black Women’s Voices organization hosted a march at University Green to bring an end to sexual assault, domestic violence and harrassment against women, as well as pay respect to women who lost their lives to violent crimes. Star Gooch, junior theatre creations major and president and co-founder of Black Women’s Voices, organized the march.

“Some of these violent crimes happen every single day to women,” Gooch said. “There’s so many statistics showing that there’s been things that have been swept under the rug, not heavily talked about, and we know that it’s vitally important that we talk about these issues, and we try to make change and raise awareness.”

Gooch was one of the students at the front of the line, leading the marchers past the Bell Tower, to the Quad and back to University Green. She carried a speaker playing music including Kelly Clarkson’s, “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger,” and led the chant, “No means no. End violence now.”

Several organizations had representatives who attended the event, including Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Phi Beta Sigma fraternity and Outlet dance troupe. A Better Way, an anti-domestic abuse and sexual assault nonprofit, set up and ran a table at the event, and the Office of Victims Services couldn’t make the event, but Gooch mentioned the office in her final remarks.

Lexi Shepard, freshman foreign language education major and Outlet member, said this event gives a “really unique opportunity” for men to understand and appreciate what women go through and how it feels to be a woman.

Avery Gilbert, junior theatre education major and one of the men who chose to wear heels for the march, said, as a man, it’s not just about recognizing the issue, but also respecting women and wanting change.

“I feel like just taking a walk in some heels is not really going to do much to show really what’s going on with those women,” Gilbert said. “But, at the same time, I do feel like it’s a small step towards showing that you do actually care about what’s going on, that you’re not oblivious to what’s going on and that you do actually want to make a change.”

Ty Bonnell, senior criminal justice major, said wearing heels seemed scary and threatening, but at the same time, exciting as a brand new experience. He said he chose to wear heels “to fully get into it and take it to the full seriousness [he thought] it deserv[ed].”

“I just wanted to get the full experience of the event and stand with the women and fully embrace the reason we’re walking,” he said.

Bonnell and Will Snyder, senior urban planning major who also wore heels for the event, said they had to pay more attention to hazards in the road while walking.

“You don’t wear heels every day as a dude … It’s almost like an expectation sometimes that [women] have to wear heels or dress a certain way,” Snyder said. “So, being kind of ‘in her shoes’ is something that I appreciated by walking in my own heels.”

Various thrift stores in Muncie donated the shoes and Black Women's Voices had the event in mind for at least a year, but started planning last semester.

Black Women’s Voices aims to give a platform for Black women to be heard and to make change in the community, Gooch said. The event, however, was to raise awareness about violent crimes committed against all women. 

Makayla Atwater, junior family and child studies major and part of Black Women’s Voices, said being educated in violent crimes against women helps people recognize signs of violence. Trinity Mitchell, junior exercise science major and member of Black Women’s Voices, said violence against women deserves attention and awareness.

“People need to know that it affects everyone,” Mitchell said. “It doesn’t really matter your gender or where you live. As someone else is in pain and hurting, we should all group together and end it.”

With a moment of silence to honor women who lost their lives to violent crimes, the march ended almost an hour later where it began — a windy March morning at University Green.

Contact Elissa Maudlin with comments at or on Twitter @ejmaudlin.


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