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UI community gathers in Hubbard Park for protest against discrimination

BY CHASTITY DILLARD | APRIL 25, 2012 6:30 AM

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David Ternier stretched his arms wide above him, titled his head skyward and wailed.

The University of Iowa junior hollered at the top of his lungs with a smile on his face Tuesday night during the finale of the UI's first day of silence in the Take My Voice demonstration.

The protest, put on by the UI Associated Residence Halls, aims to recognize all voices shunned in society.

"Fortunately, I've been in situations where I haven't really been discriminated against," said Ternier, Associated Residence Halls campus-affairs director. "I've had friends back in high school who have been called discriminating terms [for Latinos]."

Ternier was one of 20 UI community members who gathered in Hubbard Park Tuesday for the day of silence's conclusion, the Great Shout-Out against discrimination at the UI and the nation. Each wore a black shirt with a variation of the phrase "Today I Am Silent For …" — students could fill in their reason on the gold space.

"We noticed that there is just a lot of discrimination against a lot [of people] on campus and in society," Ternier said, his shirt reading, "non-native English speakers." "We just wanted to raise awareness to help people think about the people they affect and the people they discriminate."

More than 15 student organizations, including residence-hall governments, were represented throughout the day to raise awareness for groups such as those with mental and chronic illnesses, recovering alcoholics, the homeless, ethnic minorities, and more.

Ternier said that earlier this year, one of his friends went to a party where he was assaulted for being homosexual.

"I just want people to realize that they are affecting some people's lives, big or small, in some way by doing this," he said.

UI freshman Kevin Sparks said he is hoping to bring light to Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender rights.

"I did this mainly because I wanted to donate blood, but they wouldn't let me as a sexually active gay male," he said.

Sparks said he was hurt over not being able to donate blood like anyone else.

"I want people to recognize that they need to speak up for LGBT rights," he said. "It can't just be people in the LGBT community. Others need to speak up with their voices. Like I took away mine today, someone else needs to speak up with theirs."

Brittney Peterson, the president of the UI National Alliance on Mental Illness, said her silence is for her aunt, who committed suicide in 2005 after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder five years earlier.

"We were really close," the UI junior said. "But I was really too young to understand what was going on. If you stay silent and refuse to talk, and people notice that you are not talking and then ask what's going on, I think that spreads awareness, but it needs to be long-term."


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