Drexel held its 10th annual Colonial Athletic Association Blood Challenge Oct. 20 at various locations across campus, despite student protests stationed outside the Drexel Recreation Center.
Drexel has won the single-day blood challenge for the last 5 consecutive years, including last year’s record-breaking mark of 1,105 actual donors and 1,045 productive units of blood collected. This made the University the first school in the nine-year history of the blood challenge to have more than 1,000 donors participate.
The rankings for this year’s blood challenge, which was hosted by the American Red Cross, have yet to be released. The final results and rankings should be released sometime before or after Thanksgiving.
“There’s just some energy around it that’s hard to explain, but you know you’re doing something good,” Rebecca Weidensaul, associate dean of students, said. “At any point in time we could all need it. It’s the life source, it’s lifesaving, it’s good work and it’s easy to do. It gives us something that we can all work on together as a community and do good.”
Despite the event’s popularity and competitive nature, there were many individuals at Drexel who were unable to give blood due to Food and Drug Administration regulations. Members of the SPARK Association, which is a subdivision of the Foundation of Undergraduates for Sexual Equality organization on campus, protested the FDA rule that prohibits men who have ever had sex with men from donating blood.
“The ban on MSM blood is strictly homophobic. At this point, technology has caught up to the disease, and people are almost at no risk for infection,” Maureen Nolan, a junior communication major and co-founder of SPARK, said.
With approval from the Red Cross, SPARK activists stationed outside the blood drive gave out pamphlets and asked people to sign postcards addressed to the FDA asking them to repeal the ban on MSM blood. At the conclusion of the blood drive, SPARK gathered over 300 signed postcards to send to the FDA.
The ban on MSM blood started in 1985 as a reaction to the serious outbreak of HIV in the United States. At that time, males who had sex with males were the largest demographic to be infected with HIV/AIDS in the United States.
“Additionally, the law is homophobic because men who have sex with men are not the only people at risk for HIV/AIDS, and currently, they are no longer the largest demographic infected. If gay and bisexual men were allowed to donate blood, the amount of blood donations in the United States would increase exponentially,” Nolan added.