Raising awareness of AIDS, ONE Campus hosts letter-writing to Congress, discussion

ONE Campus, a national organization that fights poverty and preventable disease, is hosting events today and tomorrow as part of AIDS Awareness Week. (Graphic by Elle Cox ’21)

Though the AIDS epidemic no longer receives the media attention that it has in the past, the World Health Organization reported in 2017 that over 2,500 people per day die of HIV/AIDS. In order to raise awareness of this ongoing crisis, students with ONE Campus are hosting AIDS Awareness Week to educate and to promote direct action in addressing this global issue.

Today, ONE Campus, part of a national organization that fights poverty and preventable disease, will be hosting a discussion in Kirby 104 at 12:15 p.m., featuring a brief educational video on the current state of the AIDS crisis followed by a student-led discussion focusing on ways that the problem can be addressed.

ONE Campus will be returning to the Farinon atrium tomorrow to set up an community-driven arts demonstration. Keeping with the theme of the week, the demonstration will focus on both spreading awareness as well as ways  students can be directly involved or contribute their resources to address global problems.

“We’re going to have a red carpet as you walk in, and along the sides where the tables normally are we’re going to have red paper and people will be able to write down a fact about AIDS,” Aaberg said. “It’s a really visual representation of the crisis that we’re still facing.”

“We’re also going to have people write down ways to act,” she added.

Earlier this week, ONE Campus also coordinated a campaign writing letters to senators on Wednesday and Thursday in the Farinon atrium during lunchtime.

“We’re going to have lots of people writing letters, advocating for [the US government] to maintain at least the minimum [amount of funding for fighting AIDS] that they have in the past,” said Ellie Aaberg ‘21, who is spearheading the ONE Campus AIDS Awareness Week campaign.

Lafayette’s ONE Campus was founded in April of 2018, but ONE Campus was launched in 2007, according to its website. Both the local and national chapters function through direct action rather than by soliciting funding, setting them apart from many other activist organizations.

“It’s all direct advocacy and direct action, we don’t ask for money,” Aaberg said. “A lot of what ONE Campus does is encourage students to write letters to senators, and work on the local level as well as the national level.”

One of the responsibilities of ONE Campus members is to take broader national campaigns from ONE and tailor them so Lafayette students can be involved.

“The AIDS campaign came from ONE,” Aaberg said. “They send us campaigns to work on and we adapt them to our campus and to our student body. We adapted it into AIDS Awareness week, and all of the events are designed to spread awareness, but we also want to create action. It’s not a passive thing, it’s an active thing.”

The strategies employed by ONE and ONE Campus have been historically successful. Largely thanks to the efforts of these organizations, Congress passed the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) act, a bill intended to modernize the US’s engagement in developing countries. Riding off this success, ONE Campus will continue with new and different campaigns in the coming semesters.

“We’ll be back next semester, and we’re going to have other events to keep a lookout for,” said Aaberg.

About Benjamin Fuller

Ben Fuller '21 is the editor-in-chief of The Lafayette. He studies math and computer science, with a minor in religious studies.

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