Category Archives: Rollins Events

Silence!

Rollins’ Week of Action committee brought a Day of Silence to campus on Friday April 20th. This day was part of an annual, nation-wide event put on by students that encourages peers to take a vow of silence in recognition of the silencing effect bullying and harassment has on the LGBT community. Week of Action leaders handed out t-shirts depicting a screaming mouth in the beginning of the week to campus members. As Dilsia Fernandez ’14 pointed out, it was a significant move on behalf of the t-shirts designers, Danielle Cameron ‘14, Sarah Mills ’13 and Jason Montgomery ‘14, to put the Day of Silence explanation on the backs of the t-shirts. Those who took the vow had to turn their backs to people to explain why they weren’t talking back, much like bullies and bystanders turned their backs on harassed LGBT members. This was my second year taking a day of silence and in all honesty, I didn’t adhere to it as well as I did last year. Still, it made me feel more isolated and overlooked than the first time around.

On my trek to get a quiet breakfast by myself, I encountered a wild talker. It’s only fitting that the first person I ran into that day was the post office’s outgoing Doc Gallup. As much as I love him (and who doesn’t?), I was hoping to avoid chatting that day. He spotted me by the Olin lawn, carrying a sign that advertised Rollins’ shipping services. He said hello. I waved. I hoped that would be the end of the interaction. It wasn’t. He said, “You’re a college student; where can I put this so other college people would…”. I turned around, lifted my hair and pointed to the back of my shirt. “Oh, day of silence. So I guess you can’t talk,” he commented.  I nodded and waved good-bye. As I walked away, he shouted “I’ve got to look that up later!”  Even though we’re silent (or as silent as we can be), Day of Silence participants manage to spread the message.

After a silent, solitary breakfast, I had to take a two hour break from my vow to attend a class at the Child Development and Student Resource Center. I resumed the vow right after and went to another psychology class. There, a very rare proposal was made; our professor offered an extension on our final project. And no one jumped on it! She asked again if we wanted the extension. A few people nodded, including my silenced self. Others stared. Maybe they didn’t trust the offer. Maybe they’re prematurely burnt out from the semester and have entered catatonic states. All I know is it was incredibly frustrating not being able to give my input. All I had to do was say one little word, “yes,” and I’d have a 2 day extension. But my eager nodding in the back row was overlooked. I had no voice in class.

As I walked to lunch, I could only nod and smile at people who acknowledged me. The overall lack of communication felt very segregating. I definitely felt like an outsider when I waited quietly in line for food and couldn’t initiate conversation. Part of the Day of Silence’s purpose is to commemorate LGBT youth that have committed suicide due to bullying and harassment, but it also recognizes the ostracizing  attitudes they endured and others continue to endure. I wondered often that day if this Day of Silence provides even a taste of how these kids feel day in and day out. Because I couldn’t talk first, I was cognizant of walking around virtually unnoticed. If someone did acknowledge me first, I was forced to keep the interaction on a superficial level. Taking part in an event like this makes you understand how it is possible to be in a room full of people and feel alone.

After lunch, I went to work at OMA. Again, I could only smile and nod to people who passed by the office. If anyone entered, I had to turn my back to them so they could read the back of my shirt. It was quite interesting explaining to a delivery person that my supervisor had left for the day (Dry-erase boards are great on days like this). I spent the better part of the day texting my co-worker, Michael Barrett ‘13, who sat two feet away from me. I had to break my vow again twice to answer phone calls. A Break the Silence event was held at 6:00 pm in Dave’s Down under. Here, the Week of Action committee provided Southern barbecue while students performed original and cover songs, followed by a speak out concerning frustrations Rollins community members experience regarding LGBT issues. It was a poignant ending to Week of Action’s most interactive and demanding event; one that makes us spend a day in another’s shoes and understand the importance of speaking out.

Deviant Lives

Last week Rollins welcomed two iconic pioneers of deviant living: Joel Salitin and Dr. Jane Goodall. Both gave amazing speeches, but what stuck with me most was that they both said things that resonated with speeches given by another professional in a completely different field whom I admire greatly. In this post I’ll note each comment and how they relate to assertions given by astrophysicist and science communicator Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Joel Salitan presented “Folks, This Ain’t Normal” on Wednesday, April 18th. His beyond organic Polyface Farm in Virginia has been featured in several books and movies such as the film Food, Inc. as an exemplary model for sustainable agriculture amidst the soul-deadening industrial food system.

From the start of his speech, Salitan emphasized a community of beings that lives within us and around us. You have more bacteria cells in you right now than you do human cells; consider that next time you buy anti-bacterial hand soap. The interconnection of all forms of life, such as from soil bacteria, to our food, to your own gut bacteria, is the core principle of ecology, and for too long the unenlightened mechanical model of production has been intruding on the natural biology of the planet’s life support systems, disrupting the community of beings of which we are all part.

Salitan’s awareness of a “community of beings” is not so different from Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson’s cosmic perspective of humanity. When Times Magazine asked him for the most astounding fact he could share about the universe, he had this to say: The Most Astounding Fact

“So that when I look up at the night sky, and I know that, yes, we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the universe is in us.”

So whether it is bacteria or the universe, it is both all around us and in us.

Dr. Jane Goodall has redefined humanity’s relationship to animals as the first person to observe and report on chimps making and using tools. As a woman, the path to becoming a scientist was stacked against her, but amazing things can happen when you persevere and find people who can open doors of opportunity. Here at Rollins on Thursday, April 19th, Goodall began her speech “Making a Difference” with the story of her childhood experiences.

Apparently when she was only four years old she waited over four hours in a chicken coop to observe how a hen lays an egg. No one had been able to give a satisfactory answer as to how this  happens, so she just had to find out on her own. When four-year-old Goodall emerged from the coop, her mother could have scolded her for disappearing for so long, but instead she sat down and listened to the fascinating story of how a hen lays an egg. “What a great beginning to becoming a scientist,” Goodall said at the end of the story.

American schools are currently lagging in the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In the same Times Magazine Interview, Tyson commented on the importance of early childhood experiments in nourishing the seeds of curiosity. A scientist is just an adult who never grew up, someone who says, “I don’t know what that is, let’s go find out.” The problem is that many kids are prevented from experimenting because it will make a mess or break something, thus preventing the mind of a scientist from developing. However, given an enriching environment and adequate support, people can rise to new heights as Jane Goodall did.

There are a few people who have been major sources of inspiration in my life, and when I listen to their speeches, some of their themes merge into each other, even if they are experts of completely different disciplines. What has also set them apart is their ability to relate their expertise to the general public. Perhaps when striving to a certain level in something, a few basic truths can’t help but be shared.