About 500 GW students joined students from around the country Saturday to participate in the first national youth march against AIDS.
Demonstrators marched nearly two miles from Lafayette Park to the Capitol to call for increased funding for medical research and other measures to help end the pandemic. About 8,000 people are infected with AIDS each day, according to the Student Global AIDS Campaign Web Site.
The Student Global AIDS Campaign went door-to-door in residence halls and tabled in the Marvin Center and Kogan Plaza to organize a coalition of GW students to participate in the march.
About 3,000 students attended the march, said Julieanne Burridge, GW’s delegation leader of the group and a principal organizer of the event.
GW marchers carried signs saying, “Youth need the truth; Condoms save lives, “Wrap it up like a rock star” and “The global gag rule does not work. Justice today.”
Students met in Kogan Plaza and walked to Lafayette Park, where they listened to speeches from activists and watched performances by different groups, including recitations of “slam poetry” and a step performance by a fraternity from Howard University.
Protestors traveled from schools such as University of North Carolina, Williams College, Elon College, Stanford University and Wesleyan College in Connecticut.
“It’s a real solidarity march,” said Student Global AIDS chapter leader Monika Bandyopadhyay. “We are right here in D.C. and we do have the power.”
The GW Global AIDS alliance received donations from local businesses contributing to the march, Banyopadhyah said. Both Au Bon Pain, the delicatessen located in 2000 Penn. and Dunkin Donuts, gave students donuts, bagels and pastries before the march.
“This is the first event in a long time where we’ve got people rallied behind a cause,” Banyopadhyah said.
Other student organizations, such as the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance and Voices for Choices, also participated in the march as groups.
“The AIDS issue has a lot to do with safe sex and that’s what we deal with,” said sophomore Tovah Pentelovitch, a Voices for Choices member.
The Student Global AIDS campaign has 40 active members and more than 150 people on its listserv, Bandyopadhyay said.
The group started organizing for the event in December.
Freshman Tom Bayoumi said, “I’ve never seen this many of my friends awake this early on a Saturday morning.”
This article appeared in the February 28, 2005 issue of the Hatchet.