Even though the University has sponsored an HIV/AIDS Awareness Week for several years, this year officials have decided not to hold the week because of a lack of interest in last year's events. Instead, Student Health representatives say they are trying to find a more effective way of educating University students. In past years the week, sponsored primarily by Student Health, included speakers, panels, forums and programs centered around educating the University population about Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, as well as "safer sex" practices. However, according to Student Health Director MarJeanne Collins, the event was not planned this year because of a lack of attendance at last year's activities. "AIDS Awareness Week was done as a collaborative effort between Student Health and a number of different organizations," Collins said last week. "At this time last year, the feedback I received from the planning group was that it was not panning out, that there was a fairly abysmal turnout." Collins added that AIDS/HIV awareness may be better served in a different forum. "There comes a time when you have to ask, 'Is this a useful effort?' " Collins said. "Not that it isn't, but it needs to be incorporated into an ongoing event." But former Student Health Counseling Coordinator Christine Lyman said yesterday she had thought the program would continue. "At last year's wrap-up meeting, we tentatively identified when the week would take place [this year] and discussed how we would change things, what we would continue, what went well and what didn't," Lyman said yesterday afternoon. "There was never the presumption that it would not continue, never any situation where it was discussed that it would not be planned." Instead, Lyman said there were plans to organize the week sometime in the fall, so different people would help plan and other organizers had a chance to rest. Kate Webster, who replaced Lyman in December, said nobody stepped forward in the fall and there was not enough time for her to plan events herself when she arrived. "I would hope [in the future] there would be some program around February that would approach HIV infection awareness," Webster said. "Whether it will be a week or not, I don't know." Assistant Director of Student Life Programs Robert Schoenberg said he was upset that AIDS Awareness Week was not planned this year. "At one time, the University was ahead in AIDS education," Schoenberg said last week. "I was very disappointed that HIV/AIDS Awareness Week is not going on this year." Collins said although there was no Awareness Week this year, she would have discussed possible activities with anyone who had approached her. "I still don't understand if the groundwork of the planning was laid, why it was never done," Collins said. "No one ever came to me to say 'Look we'd like to go ahead with this'. . . I was never approached by anyone." Vice Provost for University Life Kim Morrisson said yesterday she felt the attempt to educate students should be ongoing and fully integrated with the University. Morrisson said the week was not planned this year because of the planning committee's evaluation of last year's week and because of Lyman's departure. According to Collins, Student Health is currently working on an AIDS resource guide. Collins said although she had originally hoped the guide, which Lyman began compiling, would be published by the end of the fall semester, publication is behind schedule because Webster was not hired until December.Comments powered by Disqus
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