Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Sunday, May 26, 2019

Groups unite, display talents for AIDS slam

Groups unite, display talents for AIDS slam
RAISING AWARENESS - Jeremy Cherson on the mandolin and Ryan DuBois on the drums perform in the Tavern Wednesday night at an open mic event during the International Speak Out AIDS Slam. This is one of many events to commemorate AIDS Awareness Week this wee

The three students who make up Hard Hat Area stepped onto the Tavern's main stage and played a musical medley with their guitars and harmonica. Right next to the band, a long row of tables with representatives from several clubs sold shirts, gave out buttons and stickers and served cookies and drinks to entice students and give them information as part of AIDS Awareness Week.

Seven clubs pooled their resources to host the International Speak Out AIDS Slam Wednesday night in the Tavern to raise awareness about the current HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Ryan DuBois, a freshman in the School of International Service and the recently elected vice president of the Fair Trade Association, booked Hard Hat Area to become more involved in the AIDS awareness event.

"[I participated] to inspire interest on the subject, not to change people's political views," DuBois said. "There's a lot of apathy in this society."

The event came together as each club involved contributed to the entertainment. Two members of Amnesty International read several selections from the AIDS Poetry Project, which was started in the 1990s and is a compilation of young people's thoughts about HIV and AIDS. A member of the Free Trade Association juggled and Derrick Milburn, co-director of LASO, gave a presentation about AIDS.

AIDS is a sign of problems within the global economy, especially farmers who have limited access to deal with diseases like AIDS, DuBois said.

The overlap among different social justice issues is one of the things that inspired Ravenna Motil-McGuire to become the HIV/AIDS outreach director for Women's Initiative.

Even before her freshman year at AU, Motil-McGuire spoke to people who were concerned about HIV/AIDS and saw its reach within society.

"It's the intersection of all social action issues in our world," Motil-McGuire said.

She listed race, poverty, disparities in education and gender violence as issues surrounding AIDS.

"It's an important issue to me and my peers," she said.

AIDS awareness is also a personal cause for John Eric Lingat, director of Eagle Nights. He did a class presentation on the subject yesterday, prior to the Eagle Nights event.

"Even if people just get the information, that's more than we expected," he said.

Lingat and Motil-McGuire coordinated the event and said they hope people learn the information necessary to prevent AIDS. College-aged students are those most affected and vulnerable to the disease because of a lack of knowledge about risky behaviors, according to Motil-McGuire.

The other goal of the event was to bring the campus and different clubs together. Lingat estimated the event had at least 75 people come in and out during the first hour.

"The great thing about Eagle Nights is people come into the Tavern not knowing something's going to be here, and then they stay for the show," Lingat said.

With seven organizations working on the project, Motil-McGuire and Lingat struggled with maintaining communication among the groups, Lingat said.

"Communication was a challenge," Lingat said, "but Ravenna and I made sure to communicate with each other so we were on the same page."

Clubs involved in the AIDS Slam included the Latino and American Student Organization, the Fair Trade Association, African Students Organization, Amnesty International, Student Government, Eagle Nights and Women's Initiative.

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