Red T-shirts and silence shattered the daily routine for many people on the CSU campus Wednesday.
It was all for a cause.
Approximately 650 students accepted a vow of silence Wednesday to represent those in the world whose voices often cannot be heard. Those who signed up for the cause wrote down the group or cause they wished to be silent for and received a T-shirt to denote their reason for silence.
Those participating in Silent Solidarity could sacrifice their voice for any group of people who are victims of oppression. Metaphorically, students gave up their voice for those often not heard.
"Basically, the idea is to bring awareness to the fact that there is a lot of oppression out there in the world," said junior business major Daniel Scherzer, a resident assistant who assisted in the Silent Solidarity sign-ups.
Silent Solidarity attempts to bring attention to countless people all over the world who may not have a voice to bring attention to their own oppression. Students could choose any group to represent.
"We have people representing under privileged children, migrant farm workers, the GLBT community, the Lakota Sioux of the Pine Ridge Reservation, women and victims of war," said Becky Palmisano, a member of the Silent Solidarity Committee. "We even have had people represent animals."
Although it is a day of silence, the objective is to ignite dialogue about national and global social issues. The day of silence is a catalyst to provoke dialogue about oppression the other 364 days of the year.
"We want students to re-energize to speak out about oppression for the rest of the year," said Ryan Barone, a graduate student in student affairs in higher education.
Palmisano said it is important to remember that Silent Solidarity encourages all groups to speak out and become engaged in dialogue, but it does not support any particular group. The Silent Solidarity Committee remains unbiased to the groups students wish to represent.
"Silent Solidarity is a neutral organization," Palmisano said.
Silent Solidarity may be a catalyst for active dialogue, but Barone also hopes that it will start an on-campus Silent Solidarity student organization. If such a thing were to occur, the group would hopefully have monthly meetings at which students, faculty and staff could express their views and engage in conversation about social issues.
"We want to see students become civically engaged and have conversations every other day of the year," Barone said.
The day finished with a debriefing at several campus locations. Students broke their silence at 7 p.m. and shared their experiences from the day. Trained facilitators led the dialogue, allowing many students to speak for the first time all day.
"It was nice to know that at the end of the day there would be an end to silence," said Carla Turner, assistant director of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement and a Silent Solidarity participant. "We will have a voice. People will have a voice."