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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Student silence aims to speak volumes about discrimination

    At 5 p.m. yesterday, UA students shout and scream after participating in the national Day of Silence. Participants refused to speak from the moment they woke until the afternoon, protesting the forced silence of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and their allies that is caused by the prejudice, discrimination and disgust directed at these groups.
    At 5 p.m. yesterday, UA students shout and scream after participating in the national Day of Silence. Participants refused to speak from the moment they woke until the afternoon, protesting the forced silence of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and their allies that is caused by the prejudice, discrimination and disgust directed at these groups.

    A group of about 60 UA students participated in a national Day of Silence yesterday to protest silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies.

    Students decked out in turquoise T-shirts went to class and spent the day completely silent from sunrise to sunset, promoting the idea that silence speaks louder than words.

    Activities included a silent group lunch from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and a celebration at 5 p.m. that ended the silence with liberating screams and clapping on the UA Mall.

    This is the second year the UA has participated in the event, which was organized by members of Students Promoting Respect for Individuality Through Example.

    Jen McAlonan, a sophomore majoring in English, said staying silent throughout the day was easy for her, especially in her lecture classes.

    “”I’m a lesbian, so I feel like it’s my right (to participate),”” she said.

    Caroline Nelson, a studio art sophomore who participated in the event for the third year in a row, said she decided to participate in the Day of Silence again because it increases awareness of LGBT issues.

    “”A lot of people are afraid to speak up about injustices they are facing,”” she said.

    Nelson said the turnout for the event this year was lower than usual but attributed it to a lack of publicity.

    “”I know a lot of people who were interested but didn’t know where it was,”” she said.

    Kristina Koenig, a special education and rehab junior and secretary for SPRITE, said the Day of Silence is an effective way to promote group and personal messages to people.

    “”I think it sends out the message that people need to be more accepting and oppressed groups don’t need to keep things secret,”” Koenig said.

    Koenig said some of her friends feel like they can’t share their lifestyles with other people.

    “”If people on campus were more accepting and encouraging, we wouldn’t have that problem,”” she said.

    Koenig said she would have liked to see a bigger turnout, but the group had issues with fundraising this year.

    Brandon Toussaint, program director for SPRITE, said the Day of Silence is not only about LGBT issues; it’s about people who feel “”closeted”” for any reason.

    Toussaint said students should be careful about their actions, because any type of negative attitude can push people into the “”closet.””

    “”Think about all of the voices you didn’t hear today that you might have wanted to,”” Toussaint said.

    The Day of Silence was founded in 1996 at the University of Virginia, and has spread to more than 1,900 middle schools, high schools and colleges nationwide, according to the organization’s Web site, www.dayofsilence.org.

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