UI student organizations 'Hug' together for LGBT equality

BY EMILY BURDS | MAY 02, 2013 5:00 AM

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At 10:30 a.m. Friday, the UI Students for Human Rights, Campus Activities Board, and UI Center for Human Rights will begin a Hug-A-Thon, an event to help raise money for the One Iowa Education Fund.

One Iowa fights for LGBT equality and is one of the largest equality-rights organizations in the state. Its Education Fund helps sponsor and organize educational programs to teach about LGBT in all aspects of society, including health and marriage equality, and ways of creating equality for all.

Students for Human Rights wanted to bring something “weird” to help raise money and awareness about a group of people it hadn’t had the chance to work much with yet.

“Someone came up to me one day and said, ‘Zach, you’re going to break a world record for human rights,’ ” said group President Zach Heffernen about the creation of the event. “And I asked, ‘How does that have anything to do with human rights?’ They explained that we would make it a fundraising event and that it would be perfect to do for LGBT rights.”

So the organization’s three founding members set out to break the world record. Two to be exact — the world record for the longest couple hug and the longest group hug.

In order to do so, the organization had to contact the Guinness World Records to start the process, which included some very stringent rules.

“For the couple hug, you must have both arms around each other at all times, and there are no breaks,” said Aleksander Durumeric, the group’s vice president of finance. “They take this very seriously, and it all must be recorded so it can be reviewed by Guinness later.”

As exciting as the possibility of breaking a world record is, the guys are quick to say that this event isn’t just about that — it is about raising money for the One Iowa Education Fund, where 100 percent of the proceeds will go.

“We originally were planning to approach this fundraiser from a marriage-equality perspective, but then we realized we could spread it out over all the LGBT rights, “ said David Lam-Lu, the Student for Human Rights vice president of marketing. “One Iowa does a great job of educating people about all aspects of LGBT, including transgender, and is really trying to diminish the stigma that associates it.”

So to raise money for the cause, the group will have the “huggers” seek pledges or make their own donation.

For those who aren’t huggers attempting to break the record, the Campus Activities Board will provide several hours of fun activities that are open to the public beginning at 5 p.m. Friday.

“We decided this would be a great opportunity to work with other organizations on campus and come together to make one great event,” Jennifer Hollowed said of the board.

Throughout the event, people can hear music from three different DJs and can stop in Friday night to see a drag show, comedians, dance performances, grab some free food from sponsors, or even play “Minute to Win It.”

“All in all, the night will be filled with acts that will entertain you all while witnessing the huggers going down in history for breaking a Guinness World Record,” Hollowed said.

The Students for Human hopes the public will come witness all the action.

“We’re encouraging people to hug the huggers and give them moral support,” Heffernen said. “They’re going to need it.”

Where: 178 IMU and Main Lounge
When: 10:30 a.m. Friday through noon Saturday
Admission: Free for spectators

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