Student-Organized Tent City Again Puts Focus on Homelessness
Posted on November 21, 2008
Faculty and Staff
Through nights sleeping in temperatures that dropped as low as 19 degrees, and time spent outside when the rain came pouring down, nearly 30 BSC students got a taste of what it's like to live on the streets as part of the Social Justice League's second Tent City event.
From Nov. 10-14, students spent any number of nights sleeping in tents erected outside the Campus Center, ate meals at a mock soup kitchen set up in the center's cafeteria, and sacrificed the use of modern conveniences, such as cell phones, iPods and showering.
Meanwhile, they had to keep up with their coursework and find time to collect food and money for Father Bill's and Mainspring in Brockton, the Bridgewater Food Pantry and Horizons for Homeless Children, which has centers local and statewide.
"We really wanted to make this as real of an experience in homelessness as possible," said Daniel Kent
, an SJL member who co-organized and participated in the event. On a particularly rainy day the senior wore plastic bags over his shoes all day in order to keep dry.
Students also learned about homelessness and related topics from a variety of speakers including Drs. Michele Wakin
and Jonathan White
, both of the sociology department, and representatives from homeless shelters, who stopped by throughout the week. Also, facts and statistics pertaining to homelessness -- such as the large number of people under the age of 21 who currently live on the streets -- were written on cardboard signs and posted around campus.
Through exposing the campus community to the country's homelessness problems, the event's organizers aimed to raise awareness about the issue, said SJL President, Bria Wilbur
, a senior.
"We want everyone to realize that homelessness is not just a problem we hear about, it's something we see in our own backyard," she said.
(As an added feature this year, participants communicated via webcam with University of Arizona students who were participating in their own version of the event, called "Tentropolis," which was organized by former Bridgewater student, Hali Nurnberg
, founder and president of that institution's SJL.)Andrew Abbondanza
, an SJL member and event co-organizer, was one of the several BSC students who spent the entire week living his life as if he were homeless.
Recalling the feeling of one afternoon wanting to return to his dorm room and sleep in his own bed, he said, "It's tough, knowing the things you can't do when you don't have anything to go back to."
Added Mr. Abbondanza: "It was a real humbling experience." (Story and photos by Rob Matheson, Office of Institutional Communications)