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Campus Plans AIDS Memorial

By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
Posted September 15, 1999

Since the early 1980s, the AIDS epidemic has killed millions of people worldwide. Among those casualties are numerous Berkeley faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends.

To honor the life and death of people with AIDS in the campus community, a memorial will be built in the light court between the Doe Library and the Library Annex. It is believed to be the first AIDS memorial on any UC campus.

"We want to memorialize not only Berkeley-affiliated people who have died, but also those who lost husbands, wives, partners, children and friends to the disease," said William Benemann, a Boalt Hall librarian and member of the Berkeley AIDS Memorial Committee.

"The memorial will be an acknowledgment of the immense impact this international health crisis has had on all aspects of the Berkeley family," he said

A competition will be launched this spring to determine the design of the memorial, said Benemann. A cash prize of $1,000 will be awarded. Both individuals and teams are eligible, and UC affiliation is not required. "We want to welcome a broad range of creativity," said Benemann.

Once a winner has been announced, fund-raising efforts for construction of the $50,000 memorial will begin.

Because the committee wants the memorial to be "a place of quiet reflection with a strong sense of enclosure," the theme of a meditation space -- incorporating living plants, benches and, ideally, running water -- was selected.

The library site was selected after an extended search, said Benemann.

"With all the various campus construction projects and long-term design plans, it was difficult to find a place that was not scheduled for eventual disruption," he said. The space "is near a major public thoroughfare, yet provides the possibility of creating a retreat."

As a librarian and archivist with a strong interest in campus history, Benemann said he was concerned with how quickly social events of immense importance can be entirely forgotten because of the transient nature of the community.

"A memorial of this type", he said, "will provide us with a permanent reminder of how a global crisis touched the lives of real people who once strolled down Telegraph Ave., sat in Sproul Plaza or looked up at the Campanile."

Details of the design competition will be announced in the Berkeleyan as they are finalized. For information, contact committee chairman Alex Warren at awarren@library.


September 15 - 21, 1999 (Volume 28, Number 6)
Copyright 1999, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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