Students raise awareness during month of February

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While students may think of February as Black History Month, several student groups are adding their own awareness weeks to the Yale calendar.

The Muslim Students Association celebrated Islamic Awareness last week, while Yale Friends of Israel began their Israeli Culture Week Monday. And for students of all ethnic and political backgrounds, Sexuality-AIDS Awareness week kicked off Valentine’s Day and will continue through Friday.

From Feb. 10 until Valentine’s Day, the MSA hosted Islamic Awareness Week, with the theme “Defining a Muslim-American Identity.” The week included a Tuesday Master’s Tea, screening and discussion with Alex Kronemer, the director of “Muhammed: Legacy of a Prophet.” On Thursday, an imam from the Masjid al-Islam, a Muslim immigrant, a Muslim convert, and a Muslim American spoke at a panel discussion, “Defining a Muslim Identity at Yale and in America.”

MSA member Nabilah Siddiquee ’05 said MSAs all over the nation hold awareness weeks. She said Yale’s MSA awareness week was very successful, the biggest event being the Eid dinner, celebrating Eid ul Adha, a Muslim holiday at the end of the Hajj, or annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Siddiquee said approximately 100 to 150 people attended.

“The purpose of the MSA events were to build awareness of the religion on campus — to let people know what we’re doing,” Siddiquee said.

This week, YFI is sponsoring Israeli Culture Week to celebrate Israel in a nonpolitical context, YFI Vice President of Public Affairs Nelson Moussazadeh ’05 said.

“Many of us attended and enjoyed Islamic Awareness week. A lot of us were at it and it went really well. It’s purely coincidence that the Israeli cultural awareness week followed,” Moussazadeh said. “It had been on our agenda to have something after [winter] break.”

To begin the week, Slifka Center hosted a “falafel blowout bash” Monday. At 8:30 tonight in Silliman College, YFI will hold a screening of “Kippur,” a film about the Yom Kippur War. YFI and Yale Undergraduate Friends of Turkey will celebrate with hookahs on Thursday in honor of a joint water treaty Israel and Turkey signed this summer.

“There are common bonds among [Turkey and Israel] geographically — and we all enjoy falafel and baklavah,” Moussazadeh said.

Finally, Sex Awareness week rounds out the barrage of awareness weeks with events including free massage lessons and a presentation on “Eroticizing Safer Sex.” The AIDS Resource and Counseling Center of Yale University Health Services is sponsoring events of the week.

On Valentine’s Day, volunteers distributed Safer Sex Kits and Valentine candy in Yale Station.

Tonight, professor David Maurasse will give a talk about sexuality and AIDS in the black community, followed by a screening of the film “Tongues Untied.” Other events include a Thursday vigil in Battell Chapel honoring AIDS victims around the world, and a sexual fantasy dance Saturday night.

Sponsored by the AIDS Student Peer Educators, the Sexual Fantasy Dance will be held at the Graduate and Professional Student Center at Yale. Those attending are invited to dress as their sexual fantasy, and Safer Sex Kits and condoms will be distributed. Admission is $2 with costume, and a dollar more for anyone whose sexual fantasy requires no costumes.

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