By Lizz Vensas
Collegiate Staff Writer
World AIDS Day brought together seven diverse school organizations to support AIDS awareness and prevention in the Raider Grille this past Thursday. The GRCC clubs each had a table to promote the different ways students can protect themselves from STDs, as well as raise money for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
“We wanted to give students each perspective from the different clubs here at GRCC,” said Chaka White, president of Black Student Union.
Planning for World Aids day began with the Black Student Union. The group organizes an event every year to promote aids awareness. Terrill Charleston, recording secretary for BSU and member of StandOut, worked this year to bring together clubs to participate in the affair.
“When I first joined BSU in 2008 they involved a bunch of student organizations,” said Charleston. “The next couple years I didn‘t see as much club involvement so I really wanted to initiate that again this year. ”
“Representatives from BSU asked other groups if they wanted to join together to promote awareness,” said Charleston. “Right away every club said yes.”
The student organizations represented at World AIDS Day included the Black Student Union, StandOut, International Student Organization, Women’s Issues Now, College Democrats, Christian Fellowship, and the Center for Inquiry.
“Everyone came together, everybody was excited, and we all gave out valid information about HIV and AIDS,” said Charleston. “It was about all the organizations doing stuff together, so we can help the campus and support a great cause.”
All of the organizations had free materials or items for sale, with all donations going to The AIDS Health Care foundation.
Several of the tables offered candy and condoms for students to take while also providing students with information on safe sex, including pamphlets on aids awareness.
The Christian Fellowship provided students with information about abstinence through pamphlets, as well information about different missionary work in Africa.
“I think it is important to get the Christian perspective and show that we help the fight against aids,” said Abigail Bartlett. “There are no consequences to abstinence and it is the surest way to prevent such a destructive disease.”
StandOut provided students with condemns and sold little red ribbons students could pin on their clothing. Red is the color of AIDS awareness.
“The biggest part of world AIDS day is prevention, giving away condoms is part of that,” said Jessica Cole, secretary of StandOut.
BSU provided free condemns as well. Chaka White of BSU hopes that if more students are aware they will take the precautions to prevent risky behavior.
International Student Association displayed facts from around the world on a large world map. Yvan Alvarez, president of ISO, wanted to give a global perspective to AIDS statistics.
“Since AIDS and HIV affect the whole world it is a good opportunity for us to help make students more aware, and get our information out there,” Alvarez said.
College Democrats sold buttons a variety of buttons, promoting safe sex as well as abstinence. Buttons included sayings like “Don‘t be silly wrap your willy” and “No glove= No love”. Also included were buttons with the classic red ribbon in support of world aids day.
“President Pike and I are working to connect the different organizations,” said Jeffrey Noel, treasurer for College Democrats. “When we found out about this we definitely wanted to participate.”
The Center for Inquiry was also in presence as Matthew Moore, club president, gave away stickers and helped run a table.
“Finding a cure for AIDS is one of the most important things for our community,” Moore said.
Women’s Issues Now provided treats for students, selling cookies and mini cupcakes for the charity. However they also gave students the chance to win a treat by participating in a game to debunk AIDS myths. Students would get statement and then would have to determine whether or not it was fact or fiction.
Danielle Harrison, WIN president feels strongly about the cause she supported.
“It affects millions of people around the world,” she said. “We (WIN) work a lot with human trafficking, it is scary to see how many diseases are spread though prostitution. The numbers are high, it’s a scary thing.”
All profits from sales will go directly to AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
“This group based out of Las Angeles does a lot to help the fight,” said Charleston. “They provide testing all over the world, help people who can‘t afford their meds, and help with prevention all over the world.”
“They do a lot to help children in Africa and are working to find a cure,” Charleston said.
The Kent County Health Department also came and provided students with free HIV tests.
“We‘ve had free HIV testing with the health department in the past and it has always been successful,” said Nathan Platz, Vice President of StandOut. “When Terrell came to us with this idea, we definitely wanted to participate and include the free tests.”
“We wanted to promote awareness of HIV and AIDS, also about getting tested.” said Platz.
“No matter what your sexual orientation, there is no excuse not to tested,” said Platz. “Kent County Health Department provides resources and testing all the time.”
Syretta Calvert has worked as an LPN for the Kent County Health Department for over five years.
“We usually go wherever were invited,” she said “It always depends on the needs of the community.”
Ms. Calvert saw several students, including Billy Mia.
“I get tested every World AIDS day, I see it as my duty and a gift to myself,” said Mia.
BSU hopes to include more clubs next World AIDS Day. And continue bringing awareness to a disease that affects everyone.
“It‘s important to be aware of what’s out there,” said Charleston “You have to make sure to protect yourself from harm. Learn what you can do to prevent STDs and help those suffering.”