AIDS Quilt on Display for a Day In Babylon Student Center
For one day, students experienced a part of history on campus, when a piece of the AIDS quilt was displayed in the Babylon Student Center.
Members of the Campus Activities Board arranged the event and honored the millions of people who died from AIDS by hosting a display of a piece of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
Two panels of the quilt hung from the upstairs railing and extended down the length of the first floor; larger than most students had imagined, in fact only a piece of the Quilt. In its entirety, the Quilt is composed of more than 47,000 individual 3×6 foot panels, each one commemorating the life of someone who has died from the disease. Loved ones of the victims memorialized in the quilt have poured their emotions into every stitch that holds the handmade tapestry together. They come from every state in the nation, and every corner of the world.
Names displayed were names of those who were from Long Island and throughout the Northeast. Bobby, 5/5/46 – 11/28/91, Steve 1964-1991, Peter 1956-1993, Ted 1940-1993, Gerry 1961-1988, Carl 1954-1993, Brian 2/14/55 – 6/3/88, Jo-Ann 10/18/51 – 7/18/92, Eric 5/19/68 – 11/1/93, Ed 1949-1993, Tommy 11/24/60 – 5/11/88, Ronnie, Laura, and dozens of patients from Massachusetts General Hospital 1994.
“Even though they are about the same thing, they are all different, with different emotions in every one,” said Vanessa Rugen, a student in the AIDS in American Literature class. One of 12 students from class who visited the Quilt, Rugen expressed her own emotions about seeing it. Comparing one piece to another made her feel ashamed and conflicted. “If it were my mother, I don’t know that I could make something so beautiful out of something so tragic. It might just be as simple as a name.”
Students gathered in silence, admiring the work put into the Quilt and looking as if they were at a memorial service. These students, from the Honors AIDS in American Literature, had a better understanding than others who might have happened upon the display. Professor Tamara Slankard offered for the first time, an Honors class specifically to explore literature written about AIDS.
“Sometimes you have to have distance from tragedy to write about it,” said Slankard. Although some of the material is dark and dismal, other work is especially poignant. Such is the case with Tony Kushner’s ‘Angels in America,’ written in the late nineties.
The Quilt, established by the NAMES Project Foundation in 1987, began with a single panel created in San Francisco. Gay Rights Activist Cleve Jones, inspired by the sight of placards taped to the walls of the San Francisco Federal Building, created the idea for the Quilt. Today it represents over 91,000 lives lost to AIDS.
Another admirer of the quilt stood fixated in front of the display. Charles Campbell, a former student and employee of the college, spoke about his friend who is living with AIDS. “She became an advocate for AIDS to help others to better understand the disease. The nation needs to be better informed about AIDS. Once you know how to prevent it, lives will be saved.” said Campbell.
Every year on Dec.1, World AIDS day is observed. First started in 1988 by the World Health Organization, it provides governments, national AIDS programs, community and faith organizations, and individuals with the opportunity to raise awareness and not forget the global AIDS epidemic.
In a Presidential Proclamation about World AIDS Day, dated November 25, 2009, the President stated, “Though we have been witness to incredible progress, our struggle against HIV/AIDS is far from over.”Explore posts in the same categories: News