Lars Fowler, a first-year at SPU, sat in Tiffany Loop for four hours on Friday.
“I am trans myself, and it’s just nice to be able to support my community,” Fowler said.
Fowler was not the only member of the SPU community to dedicate hours this past Friday, April 21, in honor of the 21st Annual Day of Silence.
The Day of Silence is the largest student-led national event in protest of anti-LGBTQ harassment.
Since the first organized Day of Silence in 1996, the event now has participants from all 50 states, as well as students from around the world.
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, GLSEN, is a youth advocacy network that organizes the annual Day of Silence and handles the schools’ registration for the event.
“The Day of Silence is important to me because it represents a community of people who have shared in the struggle of identifying as LGBTQIA+ in a society that does not understand the necessity for that person to receive equal acknowledgement, rights and respect,” junior Maggie Sanchez said.
To participate in the Day of Silence, students took a daylong vow of silence to combat anti-LGBTQ bullying, harassment and discrimination, and to raise awareness of the silencing effects of these actions.
Haven, SPU’s LGBTQ club on campus, hosted the event by setting up a booth containing a petition for students to sign and duct tape for students to put around their arms signifying to others that they were taking a vow of silence.
Underneath the long-awaited sunshine, students approached the booth and asked the leaders of Haven what was going on, giving the leaders the opportunity to have conversations with students that they may not have had otherwise.
Haven President and sophomore cellular and molecular biology major Brian Pfau described how a prospective student and their parents came by the booth, asking about the event.
The message Pfau most wants to communicate to others is the purpose behind Haven’s participation in Day of Silence: a love for SPU.
“We love it enough that we want it to change for the better,” Pfau said. “If we didn’t love SPU, we wouldn’t be doing this; we would leave and go somewhere less expensive.”
Students also made posters addressing their perception of administration and their treatment of the LGBTQ community on campus.
One poster read: “SPU’s Hiring Policy: Discriminates Against the LGBTQ+ Community.”
Another read: “SPU’s Non-Discrimination Policy: Does Not Protect All Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities.”
Many participants still went to class, while others stayed in Tiffany Loop for the length of the silence.
The event ended at four in the afternoon, when students took the time to reflect on their experiences together and discuss what they had learned from the day.
For first-year, Haven member Emilia Sunderland, “It feels like people are all coming together whether it’s an ally or whether it’s someone in the community like us. It feels like we’re protected; we’re all holding hands, and we’re all going to fight against injustices, and it really means a lot either way.”
Sanchez also said that to have a continued impact, students should “gather together and act as allies” for the LGBTQ community at SPU.
“In doing so there will be a greater chance that SPU will be called to make policy changes and follow through with their Christian ideals of serving each other within their community while engaging the diverse community that is around them,” Sanchez said.
Pfau echoed Sanchez’s remarks.
“We’re advocating for ourselves because even though we as queer students have made a place for ourselves, we have done that without administration.”