National Day of Silence honors victims of hate

On Wednesday, members of Carnegie Mellon?s community participated in the National Day of Silence in remembrance of those ?who have been silenced by hatred.? Originally a day to honor victims of violence or discrimination based on sexual orientation, the Day of Silence at CMU encompasses all minority groups, including those defined by race, religion, and gender.
Signified by white ribbons and a day-long vow not to speak, the Day of Silence was composed of several events across campus. The Clothesline Project, which took place from 10 am to 5 pm in the Connan Room, was sponsored by Sexual Assault Advisors. T-shirts decorated in support of victims of sexual assault hung on a clothesline which lined the perimeter of the room.
Then, at 5 pm, the day?s ceremonial silence was broken by a town-hall-style forum on campus diversity. The forum, which featured short, informal presentations from representatives of several important campus minority groups, sought to address and discuss the most important issues facing minorities on both the local and national level.
Vijay Jesrani, a junior majoring in political science and professional writing, is a co-president of ALLIES, CMU?s GLBT-straight alliance. According to Jesrani, ?The National Day of Silence... raises awareness about those who have been silenced by hatred.? He added that ?some don?t realize that hate crimes have occurred on our campus, including sexual assault, gay-bashings, discrimination, and hateful language.?
The meeting drew diverse participation from members of student government, SPIRIT, Hillel, ALLIES, and many more organizations. ?It was wonderful seeing so many people at the Town Meeting,? stated Jesrani. ?I feel that minority groups and campus leaders need to work with each other to end hatred. All of us are fighting similar battles and working towards a common goal, and we need to join forces.?
Catherine Scudera, a sophomore majoring in psychology and creative writing and a member of ALLIES, said, ?I think the fact that we gave out T-shirts and also white ribbons that a lot of people wore really shows that the Carnegie Mellon community is growing in its awareness of hate crimes and specifically GLBT issues. I think the best part is seeing how many people from different organizations buy shirts, take ribbons, and really participate.?
As for future plans for group participation, Scudera added, ?I think there?s always room for improvement, but we?re doing a good job so far.?
Jacob Wilcock, a first-year majoring in information systems and Spanish, emphasized the need to effect change on a larger scale than solely campus-wide. ?Regardless of social conservatives? stated intentions,? wrote Wilcock in an e-mail, ?they have a history of destroying families, careers, and lives. I hold them personally accountable for the significant increases in violent anti-gay hate crimes that coincide with every major anti-gay political campaign.?
The third phase of CMU?s observance of the National Day of Silence took place in the evening at the Underground. A comedy hour, titled ?Stand Up, Stand Out,? entertained with songs, a performance from the improvisational comedy troupe No Parking Players, and stand-up comedy.
In general, those involved felt that the Day of Silence achieved its goal of increasing awareness of the injustices of hate. ?[It] was incredibly successful this year. We had more participation than ever,? said Wilcock. Jesrani agrees, and is optimistic regarding minority relations at Carnegie Mellon. ?The National Day of Silence is incredibly important on campus,? said Jesrani. ?I think that having similar programs in the future will lead to progress.?