The sky was gray on Saturday morning. Wind tugged at the black and blue shirts of the group that stood outside Millett Hall, huddled together against the cold. Katie Harris stood in front of dozens of students and community members and thanked them for being there and supporting her cause, Jane Doe No More.
Carly Traynor, president of Miami’s Active Minds chapter, counted down to the beginning of the event.
“Runners, take your mark… get set… go!” she yelled against the wind.
The group of runners took off at a jog, immediately leaving behind the people walking the 5K. Harris and Traynor stood at the starting line and watched the runners fade into the distance.
The event can be traced back to one person — Harris. The project coordinator for the psychology department had always been a runner. But just before a marathon last October, she was injured. So instead, she lay on her couch and scrolled through blogs. When she came across one from her running coach, she paused.
He’d had the exact same knee injury as Harris and had been supposed to run on the same day. His post talked about how devastated he was to miss the marathon because he’d been supposed to run for Jane Doe No More.
So Harris started to research this organization. She found that it’s a small nonprofit organization in Connecticut that strives to reduce the stigma around sexual assault, provide resources for survivors and victims and educate people on the topic.
Harris knew she needed to do something with this organization. It lined up perfectly with how she talked about her own survivorship, as well as her goals to reduce the stigma around sexual assault.
“I always talk about this with a certain degree of casualness,” Harris said. “I do so with intention because I want so badly to normalize conversation about this.”
She knew, almost immediately, that she needed to do a 5K to support Jane Doe No More.
“It was almost like a fate thing that my running would bring me to this,” she said. “Being an athlete is really entwined with my survival. What you are learning on the roads, the fields, the fitness studio, you’re learning skills you can bring into real life — strength you’re bringing into real life.”
Harris began planning. She reached out to Jane Doe No More, Traynor and the Oxford Police Department and was met with approval.
On-campus organizations such as Student Counseling Services and ASG got involved as well.
“Especially on a campus, this is something close to everyone’s heart,” Harris said. “It’s happening all the time — it’s happening everyday — and I think that is why it’s so powerful for people.”
Fast forward about five months, and Harris saw all of her planning come to fruition. Through flyers and Facebook posts, Harris caught the attention of Miami students and Oxford community members, runners and non-runners, alike.
Sophomore Riley Christenson was looking for a 5K to run outdoors. When she found one with such a great cause, she decided to sign up.
“We really wanted to do a 5K that was outside, and we thought it was gonna be nice out, but it’s for a really good cause,” Christenson said.
On the other hand, for junior Naomi Patten, who had only walked 5Ks in the past, sexual assault awareness was a cause that was already close to her heart.
“I’m actually a survivor of sexual assault, so I’m here for me today,” she said. “This is very cool, very cool.”
This was Harris’s first attempt to organize a race. But according to her, it won’t be the last.
“I’ve started to really think about ways I can continue to do this,” she said. “I’d love to do this full time. I think there are organizations like this who could benefit from this, and they don’t even know they can, and people want to help.”
Jane Doe No More’s first event at Miami was a success. But its activity on campus isn’t over yet. The organization will be here on April 11 to talk about reducing the stigma around survivors of sexual assault.