PRISM silences discrimination

By Aquantonice Benison

Members of PRISM, NIU’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allies coalition, and other students will join more than 2,000 middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities around the nation in the ninth annual Day of Silence.

The Day of Silence was designed to protest discrimination, harassment and abuse faced by LGBT individuals and their allies, according to the PRISM Web site.

More than 150 students participated in the first Day of Silence at the University of Virginia in 1996. Once a Web site,, was formed, hundreds of other schools joined the cause, according to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. The Day of Silence has become the largest student-led action toward creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

“We are silenced because of how society is,” said Tony Robertson, PRISM co-president and a sophomore psychology major. “We are shunned in our neighborhoods, sports and even in the office, and now we are going to use our silence as a statement.”

The Day of Silence will last from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. PRISM members will pass out “speaking cards” from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the King Memorial Commons.

On last year’s Day of Silence, NIU students didn’t take the day as serious as others did, Robertson said.

“[Last year], we would pass out the speaking cards to people, and they would read it and then just throw it on the ground and look at us funny,” Robertson said. “It was sad.”

The Day of Silence guidelines allow exceptions for class discussions, speeches and work events. For a complete list of guidelines, visit