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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    A Powerful Reminder and Tribute to Today’s AIDS Pandemic

    The Names Project Foundation brought parts of the AIDS Memorial Quilt to Stony Brook University on November 29, making it the largest exhibition of the Quilt in Suffolk County to date. Only a portion of the overall 5,748 patches was installed at the Student Activities Center (SAC) in Ballroom A with the help of staff and volunteers.

    The entire presentation was open and free to the general public from 10am-10pm. Tables lining one side of the ballroom provided additional information and quilt monitors periodically patrolled the twenty-five 12×12 quilt patches. The entire presentation was also a part of the university-wide AIDS Awareness Week program.

    Those who were able to stop by the exhibit on Thursday echoed each other’s sentiments. For most, it was their first time seeing such a display and it was an impressive homage to those who were personally affected by the pandemic.

    ‘It was very powerful. I don’t know the individuals personally but the quilt puts a face to the disease’, said Samuel Darguin, a senior.

    Sophomore Ping Kan expressed that just looking at the quilt patches had made him feel hopeful.

    Kan said, ‘Even though these people have passed away, there are so many strong memories. These memories can never be taken away from the AIDS victims. The quilt shows us where we are now and the better future we’re moving towards. It’s a beautiful quilt and it’s filled with lots of love.’

    During the entire event, volunteers and the assigned quilt monitors from the Names Project Foundation read some of the names of those who had passed on from AIDS.

    Junior Abigail Nicolas was moved by the names from the start. ‘When I walked in, I was hearing names and I was like ‘Please tell me that’s not people who died’ because it would’ve been sad because it kept on going and going. And the person who was up, she ended up saying at the end, ‘and my Uncle Jack’ and I was like ‘I don’t think that’s on the paper’ and it made it more personal. It was touching but it was still sad.’ Eventually, she was also asked if she wanted to read a list of names and she did.

    The Quilt is part of current efforts to continue to spread the word about one of today’s most widespread and prevalent viruses/diseases. The program joins the list of extensive media coverage and widely publicized awareness campaigns on HIV/AIDS.

    Senior Kamal Villejoint said, ‘I’ve never seen something to that degree before, but it helps to really look and see that you know, anyone can get infected; everyone is human and you could have a lot more common with people than you think. You think that AIDS is not something you could ever experience but things like that, you never know.’

    The pandemic can seem intangible when compared to the common cold but in accordance to the Names Project Foundation’s goals, the quilt brings the disease to light with a commanding visual reminder that AIDS is nothing to be taken lightly.

    The Foundation aims to ‘preserve, care for, and use the AIDS Memorial Quilt to foster healing, heighten awareness, and inspire action in the struggle against HIV and AIDS’.

    In addition, the Foundation seeks to ‘provide a creative means for remembrance and healing, to effectively illustrate the enormity of the AIDS pandemic, to increase awareness of HIV and AIDS throughout the general public, to assist others in providing education on the prevention of HIV infection, and to raise funds for community-based AIDS Service Organizations (ASO’s)’, according to the organization’s website.

    ‘I like to think of it as a celebration of the lives for the people that we’ve lost to AIDS’, added Kathryn Musar, residence hall director for Douglass College, as she took part in the Quilt’s opening ceremony.

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