Day of Silence promotes diversity at Quinnipiac

By on April 25, 2007

The Quinnipiac University campus got a little quieter last Wednesday when about 50 students participated in the Day of Silence, co-sponsored by Gay and Lesbian and Straight Supporters and QU Democrats.

“All of us took a vow of silence to echo the silence that gay and lesbian and transgender and bisexual allies go through everyday because of harassment, prejudices and discrimination,” said Nicole Therrien, president of Quinnipiac University Democrats.

In its eleventh year, the Day of Silence has become the largest single student-led action toward creating safer schools for all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, according to its Web site

“It was extremely difficult not to say anything to the other students when they would make comments about my silence,” said Emily Weed, co-president of GLASS.

Participants found the vow challenging yet fulfilling in knowing the message of the social movement was furthered to more students who were interested in their classmates’ silence.

“It was hard to explain to the other students why I was being silent. I was pleasantly surprised at the level of interest by the campus as a whole. People were genuinely interested in what we were doing,” Weed said.

Although students participating in the Day of Silence were not allowed to speak, they had other means of communication. Participants were given “Speaking Cards” to distribute to people who asked them about their silence.

The card read: “My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by harassment, prejudice and discrimination. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today. What are you going to do to end the silence?”

Participants gathered at the end of the day in the quad to break their silence in a formal ceremony.

“The Breaking the Silence ceremony went great. Everyone in attendance was holding candles, which created a type of vigil appearance,” said Mark Bouchard, vice president of QU Democrats.

After counting down at the ceremony, the participants who had been mute all day were able to shatter the silence.

Students also spoke at the ceremony. Bouchard served as the master of ceremonies for the event and Therrien spoke and introduced the guest student speaker, Jonathon Kearney, the co-president of GLASS.

“[Kearney] presented a powerful speech that regarded the silence and paid tribute to the Virginia Tech incident. It was an amazing speech that went along with a really great event,” Bouchard said.

Therrien said she hoped the day “raises awareness that discrimination is still a problem even among our youth and shows that there are so many people supporting them.”

Although the silent vow was only taken for one day, Weed hoped it delivered a powerful message.

“I hope that [peers] will see that there is diversity on campus and by being silent, even if it is just for one day, there can be much more of an impact than any loud protest could yield,” Weed said.

“I think that we add intrigue by remaining silent in observance of those who cannot speak about these issues that are pertinent to our society today.”


About Kendra Butters