On Wednesday at 7 p.m., a group of students who had been participating in the National Day of Silence gathered at the flagpole, and, on the count of three, let their voices be heard again.
The event's mission statement reads, "The Day of Silence is an annual event held to bring attention to anti-LGBT bullying, harassment, and discrimination in schools."
According to a national event Web site, the Day of Silence "is one of the largest student-led actions in the country," taking place on high school and college campuses all over the country.
At Bowdoin, students could choose to be silent for the entire day, or for as long as they felt comfortable. Shalmai Rivera '10, who coordinated the event with her sister, Shamir Rivera '10, stressed that any participation was encouraged.
"If you just want to be silent for part of the day, that makes a difference," she said.
Those participating wore rainbow ribbons and carried badges that explained the reason for their silence. Some students and faculty who did not participate in the silence showed their support by signing banners in Smith Union throughout the week.
Though the Bowdoin Queer-Straight Alliance is very active this year, Shalmai Rivera expressed concern about the fate of the club next year, noting that she knew of only two first-year students who are openly gay on campus?the rest are seniors.
"Big gay '07 is graduating...their class is the most out group of kids," she said.
Organizers hope that this will spark more awareness of LGBT presence on campus. The goal of the day, according to Shalmai Rivera, was to both draw attention to the voices that are not being heard, as well as to emphasize to students the importance of being sensitive to LGBT issues.
"Certain things are said [that] could potentially make students not voice their opinions, and students might continue to be quiet about it," she said.
"It's a very crude imitation of what it's like to hide something about yourself," said Mary Kelly '10, "but it gives you some idea of what it might be like to be [in] that position."