The UVU Solidarity club gathered on Monday evening to unify their voices and take a public stand against the discrimination and harassment students have previously faced.

The word solidarity in itself means “unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group,” and this group did exactly that; interacting with unity, love and support as they stood in silent protest while crowds of conservatives began surrounding them as the Turning Point USA event came to a close.

Handwritten signs with messages such as “I’m here, I’m queer, I shouldn’t have to fear”, “LOVE, RESPECT, JUSTICE,” and “Hate crimes in America rose 17 percent in 2017” shouted silent pleas to dissolve discrimination and unite one another together.

Laura Vincent, a junior at UVU majoring in family studies, shared the reason she had for protesting.

“I’m a minority. I have a lot of friends that are different too and I wanted to come support those differences,” said Vincent.

Choosing to stand in silence was a decision influenced not only by the need to stay within the boundaries of the school’s peaceful protesting policy, but also to prove that “silence itself can speak volumes,” according to Quintin Montoya, vice president of the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA).

Individuals who had just come from the conservative conference observed the protestors and took some photos and videos with their phones. A few argumentative remarks were made, but the protest overall was noted to be calmer than what most Solidarity members initially expected.

“I saw lots of people coming out of the Turning Point event who read our signs and were nodding and even agreeing,” said protestor Kendra Hamblin. “We do have lots of similarities, and it’s important to acknowledge we have lots of differences.”

One observer, Joshua West, was excited when he saw their signs.

“They’re using their voice,” he said. “I may not agree with what they say, but this is what we need.”

However, not all observers felt that the silent protest was necessary.

“I feel bad for how misinformed they are,” Sean Peterson, a BYU student, said. “If they had spent ten minutes inside, they would’ve felt differently.”

“Nothing in there was talked about how we hated queers,” Tannon Pedersen, a BYU graduate, chimed in. “They talked about their beliefs, but there was no hatred in there at all.”

Whether the protest influenced any minds or not, protestors were proud of the effort they put in to stand up for what they felt was a cause worth fighting for.

A video by UVU was released the same day as the event, and can be found by searching “President Astrid S. Tuminez’s Message About Inclusion” on YouTube. In the video, President Tuminez discussed creating a culture of care at UVU and claimed that words can spark change towards “greater equality and respect for all people.”

Any student who feels as if there is any lack of safety is recommended to visit SC105 at the Center for Social Impact. They can also talk to a crisis counselor if need be.

Photography by Johnny Morris

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