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Too aware?

Khorey, Chris | Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Violence against women. Heart disease. Animal rights. The death penalty. Eating disorders. These are all perfectly worthy causes and pressing issues in our society. And they have all become jokes to Notre Dame students because of the rash of Awareness Weeks that hit campus in the month of February.It all started in January as the first round of Vagina Monologues letters hit the Observer. At that time the debate was fresh. Students debated the merits of the performance, its relevance to issues of violence, the Catholic Church’s position, and the position of women at Notre Dame and in the world.However, by the time the Monologues were performed in mid-February, they had become at best a joke and at worst an annoyance. V-Day was everywhere. It put up giant posters in O’Shaughnessy, told people to wear red on Valentine’s Day (don’t we do that anyway?) and brought in Eve Ensler. Unfortunately for Ensler, when she finally arrived, the campus was in a state of total apathy. Worst, female victims of violence, instead of being helped by usually charitable Domers, became the topic that no one felt like discussing any more.Then came the other issues.The Queer Film Festival had to deal with a letter from a Bishop denouncing it, but it created little dialogue among the student body.Proponents of heart disease awareness got totally overshadowed because, like V-Day, they decided to have people wear (gasp!) red on Valentine’s Day. The week after the Monologues commemorated Student Government’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week. No one seemed to notice.A symposium on the genocide in Sudan was held in Jordan Auditorium. Few students attended.A group of animal rights activists pleaded with seniors not to use sheepskins on their diplomas. People laughed.Finally, a series of lectures on the death penalty have arrived, but by then students were so burned out and busy with midterms that the discussion was muted at best.Oh yeah, and it was Black History Month too.The goal of all of these events was to promote awareness, but it seems they failed. With all the issues jumbled together, all students started to hear was “you’re a bigot who doesn’t understand the problems of the world.” Instead of focusing on the problems being presented, students scoffed at yet another awareness week. To paraphrase the stoners in Super Troopers, “We’re already aware! We can’t get any more aware!”It is truly a tragedy that these worthy causes (some more worthy than others, but that’s a different column) could not be evenly spaced throughout the year but instead had to be lumped together and thrown at the Notre Dame student body.I’m thinking that the week after spring break, we should have Awareness Week Awareness Week. Perhaps then students would be more aware of the major problem of under-recognized Awareness Weeks. We could put up posters and fliers and do a performance where people talk about their Awareness Weeks.We could even wear green on St. Patrick’s Day!