(Charlie Midkiff)

By Laura Butler

It weighs more than 54 tons, stretches more than 1 million square feet and has more than 15 million visitors to its name. And this week, the Eastern community is getting a chancto view the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The quilt, which features about 5,748 blocks, includes materials such as carpet, curtains, bubble wrap, cowboy boots, jockstraps, human hair, jeans, credit cards, love letters and stuffed animals.

Eastern has brought a different part of the AIDS Memorial Quilt to campus for the past four years, said Clarence Wallace, president of Eastern’s Pride Alliance.

“The quilt represents a lot of different people from different backgrounds, but it also shows how they are all connected by the tragedy of AIDS,” he said.

Several students said the quilt was very eye opening.

“Seeing all those names and knowing that this was only a small portion of the people affected by AIDS really broke my heart,” said Kayla Wilson, a freshman education major.

The quilt helped some students realize the impact of AIDS in the United States

“I always thought AIDS was something that only little kids in Africa had to worry about,” said Taylor Clark, a freshman occupational therapy major, “so I was surprised to learn that all the names on the quilt came from the millions of Americans who died from AIDS.”

Bringing the massive quilt to Eastern is just one way several groups on campus are promoting AIDS Awareness Week, which lasts from Nov. 26 to Dec. 3.

The event also brought many student organizations together to support the fight against AIDS. The Pride Alliance, Student Activities Council and several other campus organizations came together to organize the event. Wallace said that kind of unity is another positive effect that comes from AIDS Awareness Week.

“All these groups that don’t usually work together collaborate to make the event a successful one,” he said.

The team of student organizations opened booths Tuesday in Powell Lobby, where they handed out informational flyers and gave away awareness ribbons and condoms.

Students and faculty were also encouraged to participate in the vigil Wednesday in Powell Lobby and stay for the showing of “GIA,” a movie depicting the life of a supermodel with AIDS.

The primary goal of AIDS Awareness Week is to “strengthen AIDS awareness and show that AIDS is a problem that can potentially affect anyone,” said Holden J. Casey, vice president of the Pride Alliance.

“There are a lot of myths about AIDS floating around out there,” Casey said, “and we’re going to do our best to promote the truth.