Over the decades, Rutgers–Newark students have dedicated countless hours of community service and involvement to various worldwide causes. As the class of 1991 began their freshman year in 1988, HIV/AIDs was rapidly spreading throughout the nation, including Newark (by 1998, Newark would report a staggering 5,006 confirmed cases of HIV). As a result, students focused their efforts on educating one another and the community about this deadly disease.
AIDS Memorial Quilt
The AIDS Memorial Quilt was an idea started in 1987 by a group of AIDS activists in San Francisco in an effort to memorialize friends, relatives, and colleagues who suffered, or died, from HIV/AIDs. In 1989, students decided to join the effort by creating a quilt of their own:
HIV Essay Contest
In 1989, the Rutgers–Newark English Department held an essay writing contest to help educate students and encourage involvement in the fight against HIV/AIDs. The winner was Malgorzata Wandycz, NCAS ’92, who offered up ideas on how to spread the facts about the disease:Just last week I was witness to a conversation about AIDS. AIDS, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, is a disease caused by a virus, which interferes with the human immune system. While searching for a book in the Rutgers University Library, I overheard two students talking about how the AIDS disease could be transmitted. One of the students was trying to convince the other that AIDS could be transmitted by shaking hands with an infected person, by using the public toilet, by coughing, and sneezing. The second student said that according to what she had read in an AIDS pamphlet she picked up in Hill Hall, it was impossible to contract AIDS in that way. After the students departed, I pondered the conversation and thought how many other college students were so misinformed about AIDS as the first student had been. With all the media coverage and readily available information, there is absolutely no excuse for this naivety among college students.
According to a report published by the Department of Health on the subject of AIDS in New Jersey, the educational efforts have been quite extensive. With the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic, the Health Department has established many educational systems in order to inform the American public about this disease. In 1984, an AIDS HOTLINE was established, which has since received thousands of calls a year. While the AIDS HOTLINE is such a great success, other projects have not been as successful.
Since 1985, a variety of print and audio-visual materials have been developed for distribution by the Health Department. These materials have been developed for certain target audiences in which high risk behavior is common. The target audiences are intravenous drug users, prostitutes, and homosexual men. Because of the great difficulty in reaching these people, the Health Department has developed several educational programs specific for these people. Yet, for all the information available about AIDS, many college students continue to harbor fears, uncertainties, and misconceptions about the AIDS disease. This could be because the Health Department has not found a way to reach college students.
Some of the educational programs developed by the Health Department should be adapted by college campuses all over the country. A weekly educational seminar should be incorporated into the required curriculum on every college campus. Students should be required to attend AIDS seminars for college credit and to learn about the AIDS disease. These seminars should be hosted by medical physicians, medical technicians, medical researchers, social workers, and AIDS victims themselves. These speakers would inform the students about AIDS.
Another idea which could be adapted to the college campus is the use of a mobile education system. This mobile system, staffed by physicians, nurses and social workers has been developed by the Health Department as another means of providing information about AIDS. This system consisting of 2 vans could be stationed on college campuses during the first two weeks of classes.