By Mitch Holt, Copy Editor
Don’t Believe the Hype
Members of Awake 3:18 led an inspiring Chapel last Monday, bringing the student body’s attention upon AIDS victims across the world and kicking off AIDS Awareness Week with a bang.
As I sat in Chapel listening to fellow students passionate about the issue pour their hearts into a well-thought-out presentation, a peace came upon me. I began to think, “What can I do to join these students in their cause?”
Then, it seemed, my question was answered. The co-chair of the student organization got up to speak and delivered a humbling message about the ever-present horrors of AIDS and what can be done to help.
To wrap up his speech, he encouraged students to pick up a stake from the courtyard near Moody Coliseum, which had a piece of paper with a child’s picture and bio on it.
“All we ask is that you pick up one of these stakes and pray for the child on it throughout your day,” The speaker said to the student body. “That’s all we ask.”
That was my ticket to helping out the cause. I’m broke so I felt financially helpless, but the concept of simple prayer resounded beautifully in my ears. I rushed right out of Chapel, picked up a stake and began to read what was on the piece of paper.
My piece of paper had a picture of Benjamin from Uganda on it.
“Benjamin likes to play soccer and other sports, he likes to read and he enjoys science,” it read. I continued. “Benjamin lives in a community where AIDS is very common. You can help Benjamin by giving just a small amount each month…”
Whoa. Wait a minute. As I kept reading, not even halfway finished, the rest of the words on the card were about how I could help financially.
I felt mislead.
“I thought all they asked of me was to pray for Benjamin,” I thought.
But instead, most of the card was about how I could help by giving money.
As I went about my day, I prayed for Benjamin as the Chapel speaker requested and as I had been inspired to do. These were some of the most sincere prayers I prayed in a long time, but I felt manipulated.
Why didn’t he simply tell us what else was on the card? It seems as if they wanted to keep the money aspect of the card a secret until a student was halfway into a prayer and slip a financial request in there.
The issue here is not giving money to the cause. Any person with the resources to do so should help those who need help. But the issue is how one must petition students to give to the cause. Throwing a financial request on the card and into a student’s prayer without any mention of money seems like subtle manipulation and a more effective way to raise money from poor college students.
I appreciate Awake 3:18 spearheading AIDS Awareness Week. It was well-planned, sincere and a great display of advocacy. But in an effort like this, the organization must be upfront and blunt about financial needs-not just tack it into a clever way to raise awareness.