University community members participating in today’s Day of Silence, an event meant to raise awareness about discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, will have the opportunity to publicly reflect on their experience this afternoon as a close to CommUNITY Week, an event leader said.
Juan Martinez, a junior communication studies major and president of the TCU Gay-Straight Alliance, said the group is hosting a forum event instead of a student organization-based carnival like in past years in order to focus on student testimony. He said low interest from other student groups partially contributed to this move, but that he still anticipated a crowd of 50 to 70 people at the third-annual event.
Nationally, the Day of Silence began several years ago by a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender high school students who felt they could not express themselves on their campus.
“Others around the nation saw this.was a great movement and great opportunity for people to get their voice out,” Martinez said.
This evening, people who took part in the Day of Silence by declining to speak or by wearing a symbolic arm band can meet in the Brown-Lupton University Union Auditorium to reflect, Martinez said. Participants can gather on the risers and a microphone will be available to them on the auditorium stage.
“We are going to have people who talk about the experience,” he said. “We’re going to talk about what it is that they felt about the day, what it signified to them, how they felt it was important to them and other stories that they have in regards to the silence.”
April Brown, assistant director of assessment and retention in the Office of Inclusiveness and Intercultural Services, said that although the week began with a banquet held to honor students, faculty and alumni, it will end with the Day of Silence breaking-the-silence event.
“It’s a way to bring attention to anti-gay/LGBTQ issues like name calling, bullying and harassment,” Brown said.
Brown said the Diversity Week theme, which seems to be sticking with the students, is now called CommUNITY Week: Every Frog Counts, to emphasize unity on campus. She said that the new concept may end up representing what Intercultural Services wants to achieve with the initiative.
“We wanted to look at just a particular theme.it may end up representing what we really want it to come out of a diversity initiative,” Brown said.
Brown said she thinks that the word diversity sometimes has a negative impact on people.
“Often diversity, when people hear that word, the immediate response is just culture or race,” she said.
Christina Ramos, program coordinator in the Office of Inclusive and Intercultural Services, said she hoped the new theme sticks with the program because it shows that every student, faculty and staff member represents unity and diversity in our community.
“We want every single TCU student to feel like this program is for them.everybody has something unique to contribute,” Ramos said.
Day of Silence
When: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. today
Where: Concluding ceremony is in the BLUU Auditorium