Standing together for Ally Awareness Week

The Day of Silence ended with a coffeehouse. (Kyle Bennion / Photo Assistant)
The Day of Silence ended with a coffeehouse. (Kyle Bennion / Photo Assistant)

By Tiffani Tang
Staff WriterFrom Tuesday, April 8, to Friday, April 11, the College’s LGBTQ alliance club, PRISM, held Ally Awareness Week.

Ally Week is held in order to encourage people to be allies against anti-LGBT, bullying and other forms of harassment.

“An ally is somebody who is willing to go out of their way to fight for a cause that is important to them,” junior computer engineering major Kari Gilbertson said. “An ally is not a label, it is an action. Every cause needs allies to spread the word and recruit more allies. They are the gateway for success toward our cause.”
This year, the first event was “Different Spectrums within the Spectrum,” an activity that required everyone to stand up and walk between two pieces of tape, which resembled a “spectrum” of extremes. When prompted with a question, attendees would have to choose a side depending on their answers.

The questions started off light and jokingly, asking attendees if they preferred subs or hoagies.

As the night progressed, the questions became more serious. The topics ranged from privilege to confronting people who made harmful decisions to bullying to gender policing to standing up for personal beliefs.

And with each question, participants were encouraged to expand their views and explain why they chose their position on the spectrum.

“Reporting a hate crime is one way to be an ally,” event coordinator and freshman criminology major Robin Schmitz said.
The following day, “RENT,” a famous show and movie about six friends and their struggles with AIDS, was shown in the Cromwell lounge.

On Thursday, April 10, students were joined by the College’s professors who stand by the cause. The professors spoke about the importance of being an ally, as well as the different types of allies.
Ally Week ended with the National Day of Silence and a “Breaking the Silence” coffeehouse.

Students were encouraged to not speak in order to bring awareness and represent those who could not speak up for what they believe in. There was a table set up in the Brower Student Center for allies to sign a banner against LGBT hate crimes.
Later on that night, students performed poetry and music that was inspired by the week.

The first act took the stage. Bernard Miller, a 2013 English graduate, performed Bob Dylan’s “Tangled up in Blue” before being joined by Daniel Fitzgerald, a junior interactive mulitmedia and communication studies double major, and Connor Mullin, a sophomore political science major, to cover “Here Comes Your Man” by Pixies.

Mullin played “It’s Only a Paper Moon” by Nat King Cole, a sweet solo that left the audience snapping along.
He was rejoined by Miller and Fitzgerald for their last piece, an original, “Jessica’s First Love.”

Sophomore communication studies major Jared Sokoloff followed next, armed with a guitar and his voice.

He dedicated Fleetwood Mac’s “Songbird” to a friend who wasn’t present and then dedicated “Where the Streets Have No Name” by U2 to anyone who wanted to break down walls.

Ryan Eldridge, a freshman political science and Spanish double major, played two Chopin pieces for attendees. “Nocturne in E major” and “Nocturne in E minor, E5 major” were both sweet waltzes that enchanted listeners.

Senior women’s and gender studies and sociology double major Remy Lourenco and Gilbertson sang a cover of “Picture” by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow.

At one point, the background music stopped, but the audience began to clap and the duo continued a capella. It was great to see such a supportive group.

“Awesome performances,” Eldridge said, smiling with approval.
The floor was opened up as an open mic and several people jumped at the opportunity.

There was some more singing, a poetry chain and several more impromptu performances.

“It’s not angry, but it’s about unrequited love,” said the final performer, incoming freshman Amanda Skriloff, about her piece.

The piece represented the internal struggle of keeping silent and keeping those strong feelings hidden. It inspired audience members to be an ally so these struggles might one day cease to exist.

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