The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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St. John’s Hosts Homeless Sleep Out

Students traded in their warm beds for cardboard boxes and a cold, hard floor.

Phi Beta Sigma and Campus Ministry hosted their first “Homeless Sleep Out” on Nov. 8. The event began at 10:45 p.m. and carried through until the following morning.

“November is Hunger Awareness Month and it was member Ryan Jackson’s idea,” Brian Chambers, a member of Phi Beta Sigma, said. “We felt, as a chapter,

that it is so easy to forget and take things for granted.”

Around 40 students showed up to support the event. The fraternity raised $1,392.75 and the money is still coming in. Even though all students were not able to participate at the actual event, they did hand in sponsor sheets to show their support, according to organizers.

“This was an experimental event, however the fraternity does plan to host another one like it next semester, around March,” Chambers said.

The event gave those in attendance a sense of how it might feel to be homeless.

“They take everything from you, all you have is a blanket and the clothes on your back,” sophomore Catiana Day said.

Everyone was on the Great Lawn from 11 p.m. until 2 a.m. They were given food consisting of stale bread and chips. The food was split up and was to be shared with large groups.

Around 2 a.m. the group was moved into Donovan Hall conference room which was turned into Donovan Shelter. After coming to the converted shelter participants were broken up into groups and had to sleep on the floor.

“There was one point when even I wanted to go home, even though it was my event,” Jackson said. “The floor was hard and cold. It was set up as a real homeless shelter and the participants could only go to the

and cold.”

It was set up as a real homeless shelter and the participants could only go to the bathroom until a certain time. After the time passed they were no longer allowed to leave the shelter and those who did were not allowed back inside.

The following morning, the students were taken to St. Albert Hall, where they had a warm breakfast. However, they were informed that most of the time the homeless would not really receive a warm meal.

During breakfast, students had time to discuss and reflect on their experiences, including several who had been homeless at one time, Day said.

Many students learned the stereotypes and misconceptions associated with homelessness should be challenged.

“A lot of people think the homeless are homeless because of something they have done,” Dorian Fuller, a participant at the sleep out, said. “Many times the homeless are victims of circumstance.”

“It actually gave me a sense of how it really is,” Day said. “It is rough and I just tried to make the best of it.”

“It was a very moving and a wonderful idea,” said Aida Sanchez, a sophomore attendee, who was temporarily homeless as a child. “It was very emotional and brought back memories. I am even more grateful for the things that I have.”

The entire event was well received by the student body. “It was a monumental step in community service. It developed a consciousness among the student body,” Fuller said. “I hope to see more events like this, especially from the Greek community.”

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