To commemorate the 28th annual World AIDS Day, Associated Students, Inc. and the AIDS Coordinating Committee at SF State hosted an all-day event on Thursday.
Several activities and events were hosted on campus, such as free HIV antibody testing, a rededication and tree planting in the AIDS Memorial Grove on campus, panel discussions and art exhibits displaying items like the AIDS quilt that honors those affected by HIV/AIDS.
“I think the quilt should stay up in Cesar Chavez,” biology major Kayla Lam-Little said. “It looks nice there.”
Next to the grove, under a white tent between the Cesar Chavez Student Center and The Gymnasium, ASI provided free hot chocolate, red ribbons for attendees of the tree planting ceremony and an opportunity to sign and write a message to the victims on a candle in memory of those who have fallen victim to HIV/AIDS.
“Every year we hold a candlelight vigil to honor the deceased, focusing on those who have a connection to our campus,” said Angelica Flores, ASI member and child and adolescent development major.
“We are lighting candles in memory of people who have died or suffered from AIDS,” Alondra Vazquez, health education major, said. “It’s our way of bringing awareness to the issue, and to show that we haven’t forgotten them.”
Dozens of students gathered in the grove to show their support by lighting candles and holding musical performances including ceremonial drums and chanting during the tree planting.
Also on display in the grove was a poster board with the names of those who died from the disease, including those who are mentioned on the memorial quilt as well as those who passed after the quilt was made. Altogether, the poster board was filled with over 60 names of students, staff and faculty that were affected.
“A lot of people don’t know that we have an AIDS Memorial Grove,” said Rumaldo Godinez, director of the Queer and Trans Resource Center. “The ceremony is a way that we can symbolically say that we are still here advocating, and that we are still making an effort to let more people know that AIDS still affects people today.”
Many students, like marketing major Felicity Jika, appreciate memorial Grove and its importance.
“It’s very important to never forget the people who died,” Jika said. “It’s not about the disease, it’s about the people who were dehumanized for having it. It was called the ‘gay gene,’ and we have be the ones to show support and make sure that we don’t forget what happened in the 80’s. We cannot let that ever happen again.”