Columbia University’s Alpha Chi Omega sorority has been accused of — and admitted — “insensitivity” and “transphobia” because of an annual domestic violence fundraiser that invited participants of either sex to wear high-heeled shoes.
According to The College Fix, The “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event was always billed as an opportunity for male and female students “to wear high heels and traverse college walk, and sends proceeds from the event to charities for survivors of domestic violence in New York.”
Last Sunday’s fundraiser will be the last and the sorority offenders are in line for mandatory sensitivity training.
The Columbia Spectator reports that opponents found the walk too “comedic” and objected to the breezy way in which the serious pursuit of cross-dressing was portrayed as “comedic.” An anti-sexual assault activism group calling itself No Red Tape was apparently the source of most of the complaints.
Some condemned the walk for suggesting “that only women are targets of gender-based violence.”
“Walking for a little bit in high heels in a very public way is a gross understatement of what survivors go through,” [student Sofia] Gouin said. “You’re making something trivialized, but it’s also glamorized — something you can post on your Instagram.”
Others were outraged that the students wearing the high heels were mostly “cisgender,” or students who accept their sex-designation of birth.
Following last weekend’s final walk, the sorority agreed on Monday to remove a video of the event from its Facebook. Later that day, they posted an apology to everyone “hurt” by their event and promised never to hold another one. For good measure, the sorority pledged that all of its members would be subject to mandatory sensitivity training.
In an email to the Columbia Spectator, an Alpha Chi Omega spokesperson made a full confession of guilt, admitting that the sorority had to “recognize” that the event was always insensitive and could potentially fan the flames of transphobia on campus. The sorority pleaded for understanding, contending that they had not received any complaints until the last walk and had responded quickly.