Sig Ep raises AIDS awareness
The fraternity hosts its first AIDS week to raise money for YouthAIDS.
By Elise Oliphant
“It starts with you,” said junior Derrick Williams, Sigma Phi Epsilon’s philanthropy chair. “Education and awareness are first and foremost in the fight against AIDS. We have to get the information out there.” Williams, along with all members of Sigma Phi Epsilon, is striving to do just that. Monday marked the start of Sigma Phi Epsilon’s first AIDS week to promote AIDS awareness and raise money for their charity, YouthAIDS. In the past, Sigma Phi Epsilon raised money for and attended the annual AIDS Walk held in west Los Angeles, but this year “We wanted to make it more of a personal experience,” said Williams. With the support of co-sponsors such as the Gay Straight Alliance, Delta Zeta and Delta Delta Delta, Sigma Phi Epsilon planned a series of new and unique events that complement the main event, “AIDS Walk LA,” according to senior business major Blake Pennington, Sigma Phi Epsilon’s vice president of programming. The week began with “Lifting for Life” that took place in Burns Recreation Center Monday through Wednesday and promoted not only AIDS awareness, but health and wellness in general. Students signed in with a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon and tallied up the total pounds of weight they lifted or total distance they logged on the treadmill, bike or elliptical machine. “Our goal was to collectively lift over one million pounds and travel over one thousand miles,” said Keyon Mitchell, a senior biology major and member of Sigma Phi Epsilon. “We wanted to promote appreciation for one’s own health while encouraging students to push themselves a little harder to support AIDS affected individuals who can’t get out there and be physically active.” “Into the Light,” a film directed and produced by Peter Glen debuted in St. Rob’s Auditorium on Tuesday night and gave a firsthand account of Tanzanian sociologist Mama Lyimo’s journey to uncover the reason behind the incessant spread of AIDS in Tanzania. According to the film, 28 million people have AIDS in Africa, and 1.4 million of them live in Tanzania. Mama Lyimo revealed that it is the absence of education that allows AIDS to continue. Condoms are not readily available and often, “the men will beat you if you ask to use a condom,” said one woman living in Mbeya, Tanzania’s most HIV infected area.
“‘Into the Light’ only highlighted how bad this problem is in one country,” said Williams. “We must get the knowledge out that this is a serious problem that we can prevent through proper education.”
A very personal program developed by both Pennington and Williams will take place today during Convo between The Lair and Alumni Mall. “A Day in the Life of AIDS” is an interactive journey that explores the various obstacles and restrictions that one might face after contracting the virus,” said Williams. Sigma Phi Epsilon set up eight tables, each with a different theme that represents a different stage of the AIDS virus. Participants will have a sense of what it is like to carry AIDS after being hypothetically infected with the virus. They will learn information regarding the financial effects placed upon someone with the virus, the medication that is required and the process of telling your family and friends.
Originally, a campus march had been planned for Tuesday at Convo, but due to the rain, the event was cancelled.
Each of these interactive and informative opportunities will lead to “AIDS Walk LA” on Sunday, Oct. 18. This year, Sigma Phi Epsilon is providing bus transportation to the event and asking those who do use the busses for a $10 contribution to the general donation fund. The busses depart from Hannon Field at 8:15 a.m. and return at approximately 1 p.m. All LMU students are encouraged to support Sigma Phi Epsilon and “AIDS Walk LA.” If you do, you will receive a free “AIDS Walk” T-shirt, according to Pennington.
“Every little bit helps,” said Williams. “It starts with spreading awareness. Together we can prevent the spread of AIDS. It’s the lack of education that continues to fuel this serious problem.”