Students say awareness of homeless lacking in University
Students leading Homelessness Awareness Week (HAW) aim this week to promote awareness of issues of homelessness in the community that some students feel are not addressed enough on campus.
Eric Duffy, co-president of HAW and Alliance of Students Against Poverty, said there are three main purposes of HAW.
First, HAW attempts to show the homelessness situation regionally and nationally to students. Second, it makes an effort to make students aware of living conditions under homelessness.
“We feel that painting a personal picture of the issue is a much more effective way of grabbing people and drawing them into the issue,” Duffy said.
Duffy added that St. Louis represents just “one face of homelessness, as there are many different situations.”
Finally, the week seeks to communicate to students on campus what can be done about the issue and what is currently being done.
“We’re not asking anyone to become a social worker, but what they can do in the context of their interest [and] their career path,” Duffy said. “Everyone can affect the issue of hunger and homelessness in their own way.”
Events for the week
The week began with Walking Home, an event that allows students to walk along a route that is commonly taken by those who are homeless in St. Louis. Homeless people often have to go to one place to get their first meal, another place to shower, another place for another meal, and so on.
This week, several events will take place each day.
To end the week, a holiday dinner will occur on Friday. Bon Appétit will provide food for many homeless guests, and University a cappella groups will perform.
Duffy urged students to attend the dinner.
“Students are encouraged to attend to make connections with the guests there, something you can’t normally do on campus,” Duffy said. “It’s a really good opportunity to hear their stories.”
Students say awareness of homelessness is lacking on campus
Several students expressed concern that those in the University community are not as involved in homelessness and hunger in the community as they should be.
“I actually haven’t heard much about homelessness in St. Louis,” sophomore Kelsey Binder said. “I feel like the information isn’t all that easy to come by. Here in the Wash. U. bubble it feels pretty easy to ignore what is going on around us.”
Binder added that she would love to be given an opportunity to learn more about hunger and homelessness since it is important for students to be involved.
“I think it’s something that we all need to be more aware of,” Binder said. “As college students, it’s really important for us to do whatever we can to help others. All of us are very lucky to be here, and it is our responsibility to do what we can to help those in need.”
Sophomore Bernell Nevil said he also believes in the importance of helping combat hunger and homelessness.
“I feel like Homelessness Awareness shouldn’t be just a weeklong thing. It should be something we should constantly be reminded of,” Nevil said. “We sometimes forget about the many less fortunate people out there.”
But Nevil said he does not know how to get involved.
“I don’t personally know how to get involved or how I can individually make a difference and help out,” Nevil said.
Duffy said he feels that this week should address the problems student face in figuring out how to become involved.
“[HAW] is for people who are already interested and people who have an interest and haven’t quite been engaged yet to just learn more and learn how they can better address [the issues],” Duffy said.