AIDS Awareness Week may be back on track, according to Sexual Health Educator Kate Webster. Webster said last week that for the second straight year, there would be no AIDS Awareness Week at the University in February. But this week, she said she has begun recruiting speakers and will attempt to form an AIDS awareness event around them in February. "There is programming happening," said Webster. "I am awaiting the acceptance of a keynote speaker so that I can build a program around her." Webster said that there will be several events scheduled for the second week of February. However, Webster said that it may be only "a couple of events" rather than a full week of activities. AIDS Awareness Week was held in 1988, 1989 and 1990. Turnout for many of the programs was very low, and the annual event did not occur last February. The lack of an awareness week has come under fire from several student groups, including the Graduate Student Associations Council. Last week GSAC passed a resolution calling for Vice Provost for University Life Kim Morrisson to "take responsibility for sponsoring and coordinating" AIDS Awareness Week. The resolution also states that "the plans for HIV/AIDS Awareness Week are poorly developed or non-existent." "One of the main reasons that there was no AIDS Awareness Week [last year] is that Kate Webster's position was vacant -- there was no one to coordinate," said GSAC Secretary Michael Polgar. But after talking to Webster yesterday, Polgar said he "was impressed" by Webster's commitment to planning events which focus on AIDS education. Polgar said that he believes "there was never a conscious decision" to discontinue AIDS Awareness Week. "It was more that the University just let things slide," he said. Besides scheduling programs for February, Webster said that the University will also hold events in observance of International AIDS Awareness Day on December 2. Webster said that the December program was planned "long before" Magic Johnson's announcement that he is HIV-positive. However, Webster said that this revelation has heightened AIDS awareness on campus -- especially with December 2 fast approaching. "It's almost unbelievable timing," Webster said. According to Polgar, GSAC will work with Facilitating Learning About Sexual Health, a student organization which sponsors Sexual Health workshops at dormitories and fraternities and provides individual counseling for students. The group will distribute condoms and fliers on International AIDS Awareness Day. GSAC also will help organize activities for February. Anthropology graduate student Michael Bazinet said that the University should do more to promote AIDS awareness. "They have good ideas but no idea about implementation," said Bazinet. "I'm really upset that there hasn't been a more carefully orchestrated effort. Bazinet said that one of the main reasons AIDS Awareness Week was scheduled for February is because "it's safer to have it in the spring." "It's not like Homecoming or Parents' Weekend where there are a lot of alumni and parents floating around," Bazinet said. On International AIDS Awareness Day, FLASH will be handing out free condoms on Locust Walk throughout the afternoon beginning at noon. Students will also be handing out "FLASH facts," short messages which provide information such as the statistic that 75 percent of people world-wide infected with AIDS are heterosexual. FLASH fliers, bearing the slogan "It takes more than Magic to stop AIDS. Use Condom sense," have begun appearing throughout University dormitories and classrooms. "The FLASH kids have a great message," said Webster. "We welcome other groups to bring their banners and messages."Comments powered by Disqus
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