Sometimes silence can be the loudest noise on earth. In conjunction with Temple Student Government, the Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. held a day of silence last Thursday in honor of those who lost their lives to HIV/AIDS.
The day was followed by an open forum called “Breaking the Silence”, where students gathered to reflect on their day of silence and discuss the current state of HIV/AIDS awareness.
Although the national day of silence was March 6, during spring break, senior social work major Shoshana Brown, a sister in the sorority, said she thought it was an important event to bring here. For two days, the sisters set up a table in the Student Center atrium and encouraged students to sign cards pledging their day-long silence.
Students who pledged to be silent were given a badge to be worn throughout the day that read: “HIV and AIDS silences lives. Today Temple is silent.”
Brown said approximately 35 to 40 pledge cards were signed during the sorority’s second day at the table. She added that nearly 73 people confirmed their participation on Facebook.com.
But compared to the university’s student population, Brown said she was disappointed that more students did not participate and wished the event had a larger turnout.
During the “Breaking the Silence” forum, some students said they felt their silence helped to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS, especially when other students asked about why they were being silent. It gave them the opportunity to pass out information about the disease.
“It was really important for me to remain silent and to remember the cause,” said Leandra Gonzalez, the vice president and secretary of the sorority. “So many people out there are living with this disease and nobody knows and they don’t want to tell anyone and they just kind of feel alone.”
Gonzalez said she also felt alone in her silence.
“I felt like everybody was walking around and nobody knew what was going on. I wanted to scream,” she said. A moment of silence was also held at the forum when Brown read a list of 17 names submitted by students of friends or relatives who had died of AIDS.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 40,000 people in the United States become infected with HIV every year. The CDC also found that the majority of people infected with the virus are minorities and adults between the ages of about 20 and 40.
Students at the forum were surprised that so many people are infected each year despite all the information available about the disease. Every student said they felt more could be done on Temple’s campus and across the country to raise awareness.
“People just need to know. Period,” said Gonzalez. “They need to be reminded just so that we can have some kind of effect on the increase this is having as opposed to the decrease that this should be having.”Brown added that she hopes to plan similar events with the help of other student organizations in the future.
Carolyn Steeves can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.