Students participate in ‘Day of Silence’ to protest discrimination

    UCSD students participated in activities for Day of Silence on April 21 by wearing black and keeping silent throughout the day to protest discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Sponsored by the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Intersex Alliance and in its third year at UCSD, Day of Silence was held to raise awareness to issues affecting the community.

    The event is part of a series of events for Hate Free Campus Week, sponsored by the Student Office of Human Relations and participating organizations.

    Participants in the Day of Silence handed out “speaking cards,” which stated reasons for the protest and asked for support.

    Organizers of Day of Silence said that the “silence” pertains to the way many people in the LGBTQI community are not given the opportunity to speak out about issues concerning them.

    “Our objective is mainly for LGBTQI awareness and the issues involved in the community as far as the ‘silencing,’ and also to visibly show support for the community,” said Brian Ilagan, a member of the Day of Silence Organizing Committee. “When we say ‘silent’ we’re talking about the discrimination, harassment and abuse people face.”

    The day consisted of events including a silent lunch at Price Center Plaza. Papers and pens were available for participants to write notes to each other. A board displaying personal messages was also set up in the plaza. Some students also took the time to decorate tiles with messages opposing discrimination.

    According to Gillian Sonnad, who was also part of the committee, the event encouraged everyone to participate regardless of gender orientation.

    “… On the UCSD campus specifically and in the community, there are very few visible places to support the community,” Sonnad said. “It’s an encompassing event and one of the only ones that is very visible.”

    That night, participants gathered at the Cross-Cultural Center for dinner to break their silence by screaming in unison. Students then shared their experiences throughout the day and the different reactions they received from others.

    “For me it’s a very important thing because I do have friends who are gay … I really want to tell other people that I support them, and [the event] is a nice visual way to do that,” Revelle College freshman Kristine Dougherty said.

    Others spoke about the how important the event was and their own personal reasons for participating in the event.

    “The reality is that members of the LGBTI community and its allies are silenced every day and can’t talk about their problems in most private and public spaces and can’t voice their identity,” said Revelle College senior Ted McCombs. “We do this to show how much silence disrupts the community.”

    Other participants noted their experiences with members of The Koala, who had set up a table near the table where Day of Silence participants were having lunch. Members of the Koala were also handing out the publication on Library Walk.

    Sonnad said that while members of the Koala were trying to break the silence of some of the participants, the incidents did not take away from the event.

    “It didn’t even detract from the sincerity of the event,” Sonnad said.

    Organizers estimate that approximately 100 people came to the dinner and about 100 to 150 people attended the silent lunch table throughout the day. Organizers also said that 300 t-shirts in total were handed out for the event.

    “This has been really successful and we’ve had more involvement than in past years,” Sonnad said. “We’re hoping that in the future we’ll continue to grow because it’s a really important event and we hope that people in the future are made aware that they should support the community.”

    Along with Day of Silence, Hate Free Campus Week consisted of events such as a 24-hour reading of names of people who were killed during the Holocaust starting on April 18, Armenian Genocide Day of Remembrance on April 20, and various activities held at the different colleges.

    “I think it’s really important that UCSD finds a way as a campus community to say no to hate and prejudice collectively as a way to really lift that up and to raise awareness,” SOHR Director Gary Anderson said.

    With the theme “Dialogues Across Difference,” events during the week focus on issues of hate and intolerance. The fifth annual event continues throughout the week with a film screening of “American History X” on April 22 at the Cross-Cultural Center, sketch performances on April 23 at the International Center Café by the SOHR Troupe, and various discussion panels.

    “What we’re trying to do is engage the whole campus in dialogue, so that it’s not just ceremonies where people watch, but that talk about it,” Anderson said.

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