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Students, faculty march for a good cause

September 21, 2009

Several male faculty members recently slipped on their academic gowns – then donned hot pink pumps, red ballet slippers and polka-dotted slides. But make no mistake, these professors weren’t playing dress-up.

They were among dozens who braved a rainy day to march for a benefit called “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes: The Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault and Gender Violence” to raise awareness and funds to support the efforts of the Rape Crisis Intervention Service of Carroll County.

“It wasn’t pretty, but it was pretty amazing,” Henry Reiff, McDaniel’s dean of Graduate and Professional Studies, said after completing the march, which took place at Dutterer Family Park in Westminster on Sept. 12.

“The event really did raise awareness about sexual violence on women,” Reiff added. “When I think about anything like that happening to a loved one, friend, casual acquaintance, or even a complete stranger, I realize it’s an issue that affects all of us.  I felt like I stood up, and wobbled a little, as a man.”

Reiff was part of the McDaniel “Dream Team,” whose other members were: Herb Smith, professor of Political Science; Dr. LeRoy Panek, professor of English; Eric Byrd, lecturer in the Music Department and director of the College’s Gospel Choir; Jose Flores, chief instructor in Military Science; Joe Dressel, adjunct lecturer in the Exercise Science and Physical Education Department; MaxJulian Ham, area coordinator of Residence Life; and Jim Kunz, associate professor in Social Work.

“For us on the team, it was an opportunity to raise money for a great organization that does important work in Carroll County, raise awareness about the issue of sexual violence, and as the website (www.walkamileinhershoes.org ) puts it, to demonstrate that men are willing and able to be partners with women in making the world a safer place,” Kunz said.

The “Dream Team” – which raised more than $1,400 in donations for the event – joined two other campus groups, a team from the Women’s Issues Group and a team from Campus Security.

In all, the event raised nearly $7,000 for the Rape Crisis Intervention Service of Carroll County, Kunz said.

In the weeks leading up to the event, the students – including many from the Social Work Action Team (SWAT) Club – and faculty members blanketed the campus seeking contributions to sponsor the three teams in the march.

“The students in my senior Social Work class made a deal with me – if they contributed $50 by the end of this week, I said I would teach class in high heels,” Kunz said. “They hit the target, and I taught the class the Wednesday before the fundraiser. It hurt.”

Junior Olivia Sykes, who is vice president of SWAT, said she and other members of the group worked frantically from the first day of classes to spread the word about the McDaniel teams participating in the march.

“True, we were raising funds for the Rape Crisis Intervention Service, but it was more than that,” she said. “It was about male faculty and staff members – the same individuals we see daily in our classrooms – visibly showing their support for stopping rape and violence.

“It was about spreading awareness and education at McDaniel College and beyond,” she added. “It was about wearing those shoes, embracing what they symbolized, and taking those first steps together.”

Front row, from left to right: SWAT Club members Maria Mackall, Rebecca Odegaard, Jessica Schisler, Olivia Sykes, and Hannah Elovich.

Back row, from left to right: Jose Flores, chief instructor in Military Science; Joe Dressel, adjunct lecturer in the Exercise Science and Physical Education Department; MaxJulian Ham, area coordinator of Residence Life; Herb Smith, professor of Political Science; Eric Byrd, lecturer in the Music Department and director of the College’s Gospel Choir; Jim Kunz, associate Professor in Social Work; Henry Reiff, dean of Graduate and Professional Studies; Dr. LeRoy Panek, professor of English.

 
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