ODI sponsors table for Day of Silence

Devante Garcia had a mission Friday afternoon.

He walked up to a table on the north side of the Rhatigan Student Center which was sponsered by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Garcia added his name to a list of Wichita State students pledging to be silent for the LGBTQIA community.

After, he put tape over his mouth and posed for a picture with ODI ambassador Kavya Natesan, a freshman studying biochemistry.

The table was ODI’s way of recognizing the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) Day of Silence, held every April

“I came out to support and raise awareness,” Garcia said. “The whole point of Day of Silence is to raise awareness for people in the LGBT community.”

Garcia said he identifies as bisexual, which is why he pledged to be silent.

According to GLSEN’s website, the Day of Silence has become the largest single student-led action toward creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation. Day of Silence was founded in 1996 at the University of Virginia.

Danielle Johnson, program coordinator for ODI, said ODI’s Day of Silence table was originally planned to be held at the north entrance of the RSC. Due to rainy weather Friday, the table was moved indoors.

Johnson said the silence that is pledged in support of the LGBTQIA community has a powerful message, but it also creates some confusion.

“Some people are confused and ask why you should be silent,” she said. “They say you should be vocal about it. But, we want to showcase how many voices you’re not hearing. And that silence is deafening to people.”

She said ODI has been involved in days such as the Day of Silence for several years. ODI has always bought into the national days, she said.

Johnson stressed the importance of educating people with events such as these.

“It’s always important to understand why we’re doing these things,” Johnson said. “I think that when we put on events like this, we’re educating and we’re making people understand that it’s OK to be who you are. And we want you to be your authentic self.

“This is a diverse campus. If we can’t do it here, where can we do it? That’s why we do the events that we do.”