A Week for Life, SpectrUM raise awareness

Educating the UM community was a mission for students this week, as both SpectrUM’s Spring Education Week and A Week for Life kicked off events to raise awareness on controversial issues.

Included in the week’s many events was SpeakOUT, an open mic at the Rock that brought to light many issues concerning gay and lesbian people.

“I’m sick of being asked which member of the Fab Five I am,” said Chris Fisher, sophomore and chair of OUTspoken, the political wing of SpectrUM, during the opening of his speech.

Issues discussed during the reading included the discriminatory legislation against gays and lesbians in adoptions and marriage and hate crimes against gays.

“Being exposed to the numerous and horrendous hate crimes that happen to gays, lesbians and minorities appalls me,” Jay Tenny, junior, said. “I’ve recently become an advocate for their safety and for the acceptance of all people regardless of differences.”

The week began with tabling on Monday in the breezeway on the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy concerning gay and lesbian issues.

Other events included a symbolic marriage ceremony on Thursday and Wednesday’s National Day of Silence, a national youth movement to protest the silence faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

A Week for Life makes sex ed fun

At the same time that SpectrUM was holding events, the UC Patio was transformed into a carnival complete with a cotton candy stand, a kissing booth and a performance by Kaos on Wednesday to attract students to have fun in between classes. However, there was one catch: The carnival promoted safe sex.

The Sex Carnival is one of the many events during A Week for Life, presented by the organization of the same name.

A Week for Life’s goal is to educate the university community every semester about HIV and AIDS in an entertaining way.

“We organized the Carnival games and food to attract students,” Tahirah Abdullah, Sex Carnival co-chair, said. “By getting them to go around and learn something in the process, we may make them more likely to use a condom in the future.”

One of the booths included a kissing booth, sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

“It was more of a Kiss and Tell booth. Students received Hershey’s kisses in exchange for answers to trivia on STDs,” Shaneca Adams, vice-president of Alpha Kappa Alpha, said.

Another way students were educated and encouraged to practice safe sex were giveaways. Organizers handed out condoms taped with catchy phrases such as “Cover your stump before you hump” that would encourage students to stop, read and take one.

Perhaps the most beneficial giveaway was the free HIV testing. Enlisting the help from the local organization, Care Resource, A Week for Life provided students the opportunity to take an HIV test without needles. Students went to UC 245 to find out their status through a swab of their cheek.

“It’s excellent we have this and vitally important young people are aware of HIV and AIDS prevention,” Fatima Henson, junior, said. “It is also a good way to be involved.”

Cecille Lucero can be contacted at c.lucero1@umiami.edu.