Day of Silence a quiet protest against anti-LGBT bullying

Marquette’s campus was a little less noisy Friday, as some students, faculty and staff refrained from speaking in honor of the annual Day of Silence.

The Day of Silence is a nationwide event sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. People across the country participated by remaining silent to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.

Several organizations on campus, including the Gender Sexuality Alliance, Campus Ministry, the Division of Student Affairs, Multicultural Affairs, the Office of Residence Life and the Office of Student Development, collaborated for the first time to sponsor the event and its accompanying programming.

“This year, we took a bigger role because we wanted to open the event up more to the community and generate a larger attendance,” said Steve Blaha, assistant director for Campus Ministry. “It’s about honoring human dignity for the LGBTQ community.”

Day of Silence participants began the day by wearing a “Solidarity Sticker,” which stated why the individual was silent and explained the event’s cause. Stickers were available in residence halls, Raynor Library and the Alumni Memorial Union.

At the end of the day, a group of about 10 students and staff gathered at St. Joan of Arc Chapel to form a silent procession to the Brew Bayou, where a “Breaking the Silence” ceremony took place.

The group gathered around a table, and the ceremony began with a reading of statistics on LGBT bullying in schools. Following the statistics, the group joined voices and said, “Be silent no more!”

Participants were then invited up to a microphone to state why the Day of Silence was important to them and what they would do to break the silence.

Students and staff alike had powerful words to share with the crowd.

“We need to think about the way we use words to pick each other up and bring each other down,” one participant said.

Members of the group also read statements written on a poster for the Day of Silence, including “Love yourself, love others.”

The ceremony concluded with a reading of Marquette’s statement about diversity, which states that “Marquette recognizes and cherishes the dignity of each individual regardless of age, culture, faith, ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, language, disability or social class.”

Erin Ruckoldt, a senior in the College of Communication and president of the Gender Sexuality Alliance, said that she was pleased with the outcome of the event and commended the administration on its collaboration in promoting the Day of Silence.

“This is the first time that the administration has stepped up and acknowledged a day that is huge to the LGBTQ community,” she said.

Many students who participated in the Day of Silence and the Breaking the Silence ceremony did so because of a personal connection to the LGBT community and to the hardships they face through bullying and harassment.

“It meant a lot to me because I have a strong connection to the LGBTQ community,” said John Adams, a senior in the College of Business Administration. “I have a lot of friends and family members who are LGBT, so it meant a lot to me because of my personal relationships.”