Appalachian State holds 26th Walk for Awareness

Hundreds+of+students+gather+before+the+walk+to+hear+music+and+a+speech+from+Chancellor+Everts.+Members+of+the+Red+Flag+Campaign+lead+the+walk+along+with+the+Chancellor.

Emma Kovasckitz

Hundreds of students gather before the walk to hear music and a speech from Chancellor Everts. Members of the Red Flag Campaign lead the walk along with the Chancellor.

Tommy Culkin

Appalachian State University held its 26th annual Walk for Awareness Sept. 1.

The walk is held to raise awareness for interpersonal and domestic violence.

“The goal [of the Walk for Awareness] is to honor and recognize those who have experienced interpersonal violence,” said Ellen Hartman, the interpersonal violence support coordinator for the Red Flag Campaign at Appalachian State. “It’s a very difficult and sometimes debilitating experience, so this is an opportunity to honor them and tell them that they are not alone.”

Hartman also said the walk serves as a reminder to the members of the Appalachian State community that interpersonal violence is a very real issue, and that we all can play a part in preventing it.

Students participate in the final stretch of a silent walk to raise awareness for sexual assault and interpersonal violence. The walk ended in the Schaefer center with a short collection of speeches on the topic.
Students participate in the final stretch of a silent walk to raise awareness for sexual assault and interpersonal violence. The walk ended in the Schaefer center with a short collection of speeches on the topic. | Photo by: Emma Kovasckitz

“These are not the social norms that should exist,” Hartman said. “We need to stand up and do something about this.”

Students, faculty, and other community members congregated in Sanford Mall, where Chancellor Sheri N. Everts gave an opening statement. The group then marched in total silence to the Schaefer Center for Performing Arts, where Hartman, Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity Bindu Jayne and Kit Gruelle, an Appalachian State alumnus spoke about why they march.

Gruelle is a survivor of domestic abuse and has been an advocate for battered women for over 25 years.

She urged everyone to take a stand against violence, even if you think your actions wouldn’t make a difference.

“There’s no act of kindness that’s too small,” Gruelle said. “Sometimes, those acts of kindness are the ones that are the most meaningful.”

According to Judy Haas, the associate dean of student conduct, there were approximately 1,000 people at the walk.

“The fact that this many people took time out of their night to participate in this tells me that [the Appalachian State community] won’t be passive bystanders in cases of sexual and domestic abuse,” Gruelle said.

Haas said it’s important that the walk be silent.

“It’s a time for us to reflect about what this means to us,” Haas said.

The event was started in 1989 after an Appalachian State professor named Leigh Cooper and a student named Jennifer Gray were kidnapped, beaten and raped by a man named Daniel Lee. Lee murdered Gray, but Cooper was able to escape him.

Hartman believes that the ultimate goal of the event is to educate students about the resources available on campus for victims of interpersonal and domestic violence.

“I want students to understand that there are resources out there for support and to help navigate things,” Hartman said. “I really hope students will learn who I am on campus, and know that my door is always, always open.”

Story by: Tommy Culkin, Senior News Reporter

Photos by: Emma Kovasckitz