The Day of Silence is a national day of acknowledgment for those in the LGBTQIA+ community who have lost their voice due to suicide, bullying or other forms of harassment. This year, it takes place on Friday, April 12, and the President’s Commission for LGBTQIA+ Advocacy at SNHU will be holding a Break the Silence rally in the Last Chapter Pub at 3 p.m. the same day.
The Day of Silence provides an opportunity for those in the LGBTQIA+ community to show solidarity with others in their community who may not have the easiest experience being who they truly are. It also provides an opportunity for those who are not a part of the LGBTQIA+ community to demonstrate their alliance and educate themselves on the issues concerning the community.
Assistant Director of Freshman Admission Amanda Flores spoke about the President’s Commission for LGBTQIA+ Advocacy’s mission and how it aligns with the Day of Silence.
“We’re looking to raise awareness and recognize and illustrate the silencing of LGBTQIA+ youth. It’s mainly focused on how bullying and harassment of LGBTQIA+ youth are swept under the rug, and this happens a lot especially in educational settings,” Flores said.
According to GSAFE, an advocacy group for LGBTQIA+ youth in Wisconsin, the Day of Silence was originally enacted at the University of Virginia in 1996 for a class project on nonviolent protest. That year, over 150 students participated. Only one year later in 1997, the day became a national protest with over 100 colleges and campuses participating. Today, over 10,000 schools participate in this protest.
“I feel like support and education are two of the biggest things,” said Kristina Rieger, business student coordinator at the Wolak Learning Center and second-year co-chair for the commission. “Showing support for all different students, staff, faculty that are part of different groups, whether it’s LGBTQIA+ or different diversity groups…sometimes people just don’t know or they’re not aware so they just put on blinders so anytime you can use [initiatives] to show the support but then also help the community learn more about different diverse groups on campus is always helpful.”
The President’s Commission for LGBTQIA+ Advocacy will also be tabling in the Dining Center for the week preceding their event on the twelfth, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. They will be providing more information about Day of Silence as well as buttons, shirts and pledges for those who would like to participate.
Flores and Rieger both spoke about their hopes for the rally in the Pub to be an opportunity for more discussion about how SNHU can become more inclusive than it already is as well as providing participants an outlet to share their experience in the LGBTQIA+ community.
“The goal is to be able to advocate, to make improvements, changes, provide support and a safe environment for everybody at SNHU,” Rieger said.
The President’s Commission for LGBTQIA+ Advocacy is also responsible for the Faces of Pride that can be found around campus. Rieger spoke about her desire to continue to support initiatives like this during her time as co-chair.
“Any way we can support initiatives like that I think is really important for the Commission,” said Rieger.
The rally will provide light refreshments and souvenirs for the Day of Silence along with uplifting discussion and stories. Anyone who wishes to learn more about the Day of Silence is encouraged to stop by the tables in the Dining Center or go to glsen.org/day-silence