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SAGA holds day of silence for gay issues

Megan O'Neil | Thursday, April 14, 2005

Just weeks after being approved as an official club at Saint Mary’s, the Straight and Gay Alliance (SAGA) kept its promise of addressing issues surrounding sexuality by staging a day of silence Wednesday.

SAGA asked students to make a day-long vow not to speak in order to “recognize and protest the discrimination and harassment – in effect, the silencing – experienced by [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] students and their allies,” a flier stated. The action at Saint Mary’s was part of a larger national movement on college and university campuses, wherein students are silent for 24 hours.

While only a handful of students remained mute all day, dozens more wore stickers distributed by SAGA officers as a sign of support of the group’s efforts.

“I decided to wear [a sticker] because I thought it was important to raise awareness that SAGA is on campus now and it is recognized,” junior Sue Mitchell said.

Mitchell added such events are particularly important in a Catholic environment. She said her sticker prompted plenty of reaction, including one student who asked her if she was gay.

“I said no, but just because I am not gay doesn’t mean I can’t support it,” Mitchell said.

Club president Megan Shaeffer said students were encouraged to participate however they saw fit.

“We did ask people to wear black for visibility … but really it was just kind of left up to the student body” to participate however it chose, she said.

Schaeffer said reaction from both students and faculty was positive.

“I’ve seen nothing but support, so I think there has been a pretty good reaction as a whole,” she said.

Freshman and SAGA treasurer Sara Nielsen said she had individuals tell her they appreciated what the club was doing to create a more welcoming environment for gay and lesbian students.

The day of silence came on the heels of a presentation sponsored by SAGA and the Student Diversity Board in which Sister Kathleen Dolphin, director of the Center for Spirituality, explained the teaching of the Catholic Church in regard to homosexuals.

“We are very excited [about our recent events],” Nielsen said. “We knew we didn’t have a lot of time before the end of the school year, and we wanted to get in a couple of things.”