Faculty Show Talents at AIDS Benefit

Last night, more than 60 people gathered in Paine Hall to witness members of the Harvard Faculty show off their talent--or lack thereof.

"Faculty...talent--I know what oxymoron means," said Professor of Astronomy Robert P. Kirshner '70. "And now I am one."

Kirshner was one of numerous faculty members invited--or coerced--to perform at the second annual "Faculty Unplugged," a benefit talent show sponsored by AIDS Education and Outreach (AEO).

Participation requirements were not stringent. "I'm not on the faculty and I have no talent," said Director of Dining Services Michael P. Berry, whose dramatic reading of students' dining hall comment cards brought the night's loudest outbursts of laughter.

"I appreciate your attempts at diversity. But your pies lack a certain "Je ne said quoi,'" a student wrote on one of the infamous yellow cards. "By this I mean they suck shit!"


Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature Gregory Nagy and his wife Olga Davidson served as emcees, performing as Beavis and Butthead.

Profits from the event will be given to the Sidney Boerum, Jr. Health Center in Boston, which opened in 1993 and provides health care services and HIV testing for the community.

AEO member and former co-coordinator Jeanne L. Kwong '96 explained that this center's use of anonymous testing was one reason it was chosen as the beneficiary.

Harvard University Health Services has only confidential testing, which, unlike anonymous testing, is included on the permanent medical record, Kwong said.

AEO members handed out red ribbons, AIDS information pamphlets and condoms--some of which were colored.

"They're fun and interesting," Kwong said. "People like the colored ones. It's cute."

Participants recognized that the event, which is part of Harvard's AIDS Awareness Week, dealt with a serious issue, despite its humorous tone.

Quincy House's Allston Burr Senior Tutor Rory A. W. Browne, who recited poems about animals, said AIDS is an issue which involves everybody.

"Since AIDS has been a menace, it's something we're all conscious of," he said.

Added Kirshner, "I never met a virus that I liked."

But as Kirshner blew his nose whistle and stripped off his vest without removing his jacket, the seriousness of the issue was put aside for an hour or so.

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