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In year's final months, 'Weeks' abound

It's "Weeks" season at Duke.


 The recent abundance of "Weeks"--week-long programs that fall under certain themes, such as health or sexual assault--has been quite noticeable, students say, and with good justification.


 Sexual Assault Prevention Week occurred alongside Hinduism Awareness Week just last week. The week before that, Health Awareness Week shared the spotlight with South Asian Awareness Week. And today is the first day of the Center for Race Relations Week.


 These are just several of the awareness and prevention weeks that have been occurring on campus ever since students returned from spring break.


 Some students, like junior Sravan Kakani, think the cluster of events can prove less effective in terms of outreach and turnout.


 "I know I kind of got overwhelmed," he said, "especially with everything occurring towards the end of the semester."


 Junior April Mims admitted she became a little confused during the constant barrage of programs.


 "At the end of the year, there's a lot of stuff piling on," she said. "There are people walking around and wearing ribbons, and I lose count of what they stand for--is it breast cancer, or AIDS, or something else?"


 Others, however, thought placing the awareness and prevention weeks in proximity to each other made sense.


 "There's a wealth of activities," said senior Stacy Clark. "You go down the [Bryan Center] walkway, and there are people advertising all these events. You know about all the things that are going on."


 "In theory, it's a good idea," added Victor Chiang, a junior. "It becomes easier to find out about an event that you're interested in."


 This seeming convergence of keynote addresses, workshops and campaigns, however, was mostly unintentional.


 Organizers Amy Soni, a senior, and Aarti Asnani, also a senior, explained that Hinduism Awareness Week was centered around two religious holidays: Ram Namavi, which took place Friday, and Holi, which occurred just yesterday.


 "Because those events were at this time of the year, we thought it'd be nice to have our week [coincide with their week]," Soni said.


 The two were inspired by a regional conference held in 2001 on Hinduism.


 "We were thinking of having a similar conference this year," Asnani said. "But we decided to keep it more limited to Duke's campus and we thought this would be the best way of doing that."


 By keeping the week based around Duke and Durham, Soni believes this forced people to be more receptive to what they are presenting. "I don't know how to say this properly," Soni began, "but if you throw something at people a lot, they tend to think about it more."


 "Right, like immerse them," Asnani agreed.


 SAPW traditionally takes place around this time of the year.    

 "[Prevention weeks] always fall around this period of time, but planning them is a difficult thing," said Sourav Seugupta, a senior involved with Men Acting for Change and also helped plan and run the Week's activities. "We understand that Duke has a lot of [awareness] weeks going on. We definitely did not plan it thinking we wanted to compete with other weeks."


 Seugupta also noted that the warmer weather at this time of year contributed to the turnout, nodding at the information kiosk set up in front of Alpine Bagels. "It's a good time in general because we need to be outside."


 But he added that one week was not enough.


 "If we had it our way, [SAPW] would be 365 days a year," Seugupta said. "It's one of those things where we say Prevention Week should be every week."


 Several of the awareness weeks are new. The first ever Hinduism Awareness Week at Duke finished yesterday, and taking flight today is the University's first Center for Race Relations Week, offering dialogues on race, gender/sexuality, nationality and religion.


 "We feel like we address a lot of issues that are important to many Duke students," explained sophomore Hollen Reischer. "So we're trying to have a week that will create awareness about the center and expose people to a sampling of different activities... so they can have a resource and an outlet for those kinds of things."


 Health Awareness Week took place for the second time on campus in March, this year offering something last year's had not: Mental Health Day.


 "A student panel spoke of their personal experiences with mental illness, especially depression," said sophomore Rebecca Parrish, who coordinated Health Awareness Week.


 Most find that such changes are necessary in order to improve the quality and extend the scope of their programs, as they look forward to continuing awareness and prevention weeks next year.


 Parrish talked excitedly about enlarging the impact of Health Awareness Week on the Durham community.


 "I'd like to spread awareness among students on Duke's campus about Durham health--how poor healthcare is in Durham and how harshly Durham is hit with STDs, AIDS, diabetes, cancer," she said.


 Reischer was more blunt about the Center for Race Relations' needs. "We don't have very much funding this year," she said. "So we'll have a lot more capacity to do bigger things, I guess, when we have more money."


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