Rainbow Alliance celebrates day of silence

by Liz Bertko | 10/30/00 6:00am

Last night at midnight, the Dartmouth Rainbow Alliance kicked off a day of silence to show support for National Coming Out Month.

Doug Mastin '04, DRA's social co-chair, told The Dartmouth the silence serves a dual purpose. "It's a chance for members of the gay and straight community to reflect on what has happened during National Coming Out Month and reflect on what is going on in their lives," Mastin said.

According to Mastin, the day of silence is meant to be a campus unifying event with the goal of involving as many people as possible.

Participants will not speak during the period limiting conversations in the classroom and social and extracurricular activities.

Today's event is only a Dartmouth program, and not one that is happening simultaneously across the country.

The event commenced in Collis Commonground an hour before midnight, where faculty and student spoke on a variety of issues. It will end at sundown today with a candlelight vigil, where participants can discuss what the silence meant to them.

Mastin said any one in the Dartmouth community can participate, and he estimated between 30 and 150 participants.

Mastin said the degree to which one participates varies as well. "Whatever the individual feels comfortable with. If someone wants to do it just when they're not in class, that's okay," Mastin said.

To provide support for participants, there will be a table in the Collis Center today providing information and a volunteer manning the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer and Allies Resource center throughout the day.

Mastin said he is optimistic about the event. "If it can change one person's attitude about the community, that's a goal in itself," Mastin said.

He said he feels that although Dartmouth is "not as ahead of the times as other campuses" concerning gay awareness, "the school is definitely greatly increasing its acceptance and openness, especially in the '04 class."

Ultimately, Mastin said the day of silence is an opportunity to "respect those who feel they have been silenced due to homophobia."