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The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Spectrum to host Week of Silence events

In an effort to raise awareness of both the range of sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions that exist not only across campus but nationwide, Capstone Alliance and the UA Safe Zone Program are hosting a wide range of events beginning today.

The events lead up to the 14th-annual Day of Silence, a day where students take a vow of silence to help bring attention to discrimination and harassment that individuals and groups often face as a result of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Renee Wells, secretary at the UA Capstone Alliance, said the Day of Silence is an invaluable learning experience for everyone.

“Most people don’t appreciate how difficult it is to go an entire day without speaking,” Wells said. “The frustration and powerlessness that we begin to feel each and every time we start to say something and then realize we can’t is only a fraction of what many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students have to deal with every day.

“While we, as participants, can’t experience the full weight of what it feels like to be harassed, we can learn that discrimination leads to silence, and that silence can make us feel invisible. By feeling that for ourselves, hopefully it will make us think twice before discriminating against others or remaining silent in the face of such discrimination.”

On Tuesday, Robin Ochs, an activist and workshop leader specializing in issues related to identity and coalition building, will give two presentations. The first, “Beyond Binaries: Identity and the Sexuality Spectrum,” is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. in Gorgas Room 205. Ochs’ second presentation, “Imagining Our Lives,” will begin at 7:00 p.m. in Gorgas Room 205.

Josh Burford, coordinator of freshman community outreach for the community service center, said that, oftentimes, communities have biphobia and that Ochs is coming to address that, among other topics.

“She is bringing light to a part of our community that really doesn’t get much attention,” Burford said. “The bisexual community is often stereotyped against, and we wanted to bring her here to speak to that part of our community. She’s just amazing.”

On Friday, UA students, faculty and staff will participate in a Day of Silence, a UA tradition since its creation in 1996. Participants will distribute speaking cards to people they encounter throughout the day. Each card explains the meaning behind the Day of Silence, and thus why the participants are not speaking.

For students interested in partaking, members of the Spectrum student organization will

distribute stacks of speaking cards from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Friday in the Ferguson Center.

As the Day of Silence comes to an end, participants and supporters will meet inside the Ferguson Center’s game room at 6 p.m. for the breaking of silence and a reception. This year’s event also features the awarding of the Elliot Jackson Jones Memorial Scholarship by Mark Nelson, vice president of student affairs, to this year’s recipient who will be announced at the event.

The scholarship is awarded each year to a UA student who finds new ways to support issues affecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students and staff at the UA campus.

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