HIV/AIDS Awareness Week will not be held this February for the second year in a row, despite ongoing claims by graduate students and campus AIDS activists that the administration has failed to make complex health issues known on campus. Student Health Counseling Coordinator Kate Webster said last week she does not plan to organize the awareness session this year because sparse attendance at past events made the program more effort than it was worth. Webster said she plans to have awareness programming throughout the year instead. But the Graduate Students Associations Council this week passed a resolution requesting that Vice Provost for University Life Kim Morrisson "take responsibility for sponsoring and coordinating" the program this year and ensuring that the programs are held every year. The resolution states GSAC's concern "that plans for HIV/AIDS Awareness Week are poorly developed or non-existent." "There's been no indication from the University so far that any concerted planning has gone into an AIDS Awareness Week," GSAC President Anne Cubilie said. In past years, HIV/AIDS Awareness Week, sponsored primarily by Student Health, featured speakers, forums and programs to educate the University about Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, as well as safe sex practices. The annual event was not held last February. "I want to have a few different programs scattered throughout the year," Webster said. "To put all of your energy and resources into one week of programming does not serve the purpose." Webster, who came to the University in December, was not on campus for any of the Awareness Weeks the University held several years in a row. But she said that Student Health officials told her the last program, held in February 1990, was sparsely attended. Contrary to her stance this fall, Webster said last spring that "I would hope [in the future] there would be some program around February that would approach HIV infection awareness." So far this year, Student Health administrators have sponsored no AIDS awareness programs, despite Webster's insistence that there needs to be a constant flow of information about the fatal disease. Webster said she is still planning the events. Like last spring, there is apparently some confusion among University offices about the status of the Awareness Week. In the Office of Student Life, which co-sponsored the program in the past, and in the President's Office, officials did not know whether AIDS Awareness Week was going to be held this February. Executive Assistant to the VPUL Barbara Cassel said yesterday she agrees with GSAC that "there should be an AIDS Awareness Week," adding that she does not know if anyone is planning it. "I think that there needs to be programming raising consciousness and sensitivity to those people [AIDS] has an impact on," Cassel said. "And I think there should be ongoing programming as well." Graduate students and campus AIDS activists last week faulted the administration and Student Health for cancelling the week and for failing to make the "complex" health issues known to students, faculty and staff members. Anthropology graduate student Michael Bazinet said students and faculty members do not understand the many issues surrounding AIDS, saying AIDS Awareness Week is a good way to bring the issue to people's attention. Bazinet also said Student Health officials have exaggerated the impact of low attendance during the week's programs. Bazinet added that he does not agree that events were poorly attended. "Some programs were, and some weren't," he said.Comments powered by Disqus
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