Greek Week, Welcome Week, homecoming weekend. Ah, the rituals that we have adopted to be part of our year. As a student body, we look forward to these events and we make them vital parts of our college experience. Yet there seems to be something lacking in this: Why are all of these weeks geared specifically to drinking and having fun?
Okay, I didn't mean for that to sound so stuffy. I am defiantly all for having fun and letting loose and looking forward to events with bated breath (Let it be known that I am specifically referring to my two favorites: Halloween and Mifflin!) but I feel like we as a student body are missing some substantive events. Why don't we look forward to events that can actually educate us and make a substantial difference on our campus and in the world? As a student body, we can maintain our oh-so-coveted reputation as a top drinking school, but we can also be a deeper,
more influential student body, instead of only putting our livers to good work.
Something that we as a university should participate in and acknowledge and make a great success is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Now I know, this does not have as good of a ring to it as Greek Week, and does not involve coming back to school for one more glorious year like Welcome Week does, but it is a good and little known event that should be celebrated and participated in by our entire student body.
The week is co-sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign against Hunger and Homelessness and takes place ever year from Nov. 11 to 17. The week is designed to make people question the current poverty problems that are plaguing our country and countries worldwide.
This week gives us students a chance to sit up and think about what we personally can do to help our fellow human beings. Ask questions. Get angry.
What is currently happening in the U.S. is unacceptable, and we need to care. Seeing as hunger and homelessness are a few of the largest issues in our country, why isn't it one of the top campaign issues this year? Why aren't more tax cuts being given to the people who can barely afford to pay taxes at all? Why isn't there a bigger chunk of the budget being used for homeless shelters? Why do social workers and teachers and our civil servants get paid a meager amount for the good they are trying to do? Why is health care so hard to come by and afford?
And most importantly, why are we as students, as activists and concerned citizens, not doing more to find answers to these pressing questions?
This year, I implore you to participate in Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. For seven days, walk in the shoes of the underprivileged and undernourished. There are events going on the entire week that can raise money for international, national and local charities; events that educate about the plight of the homeless and events that allow you to truly understand what it is like to be homeless.
For all of you do-gooders who live in the dorms that are just dying to get rid of your useless change, I invite you to head to your lobbies during the week of Nov. 11 to 17 and participate in a rousing round of penny wars. You get to participate in a fun dorm event and help the poor, so it's a win-win situation.
For all those of you older than 21 who are looking for good drink specials, we've got you covered, too. Throughout the week there is going to be green and white checkered wristbands being sold for $5. If you buy one of these bad boys you get awesome discounts on drinks at many of your favorite Madison hot spots (Kollege Klub, Wando's, Johnny O's, Tutto Pasta, Nitty Gritty and Brother's to name just a few) on Thursday the 15th.
For those of you out there who want to get a real clue about what a homeless person goes through every night of his or her life, I invite you to join other curious students out on library mall on Wednesday the 14th for a sleep out. Habitat for Humanity will provide you with some great programming, but remember, bring some warm sleeping clothes and a down sleeping bag because it gets cold out there in November. I assure you it will be a terrible night's sleep, but hey, suck it up. The homeless have to deal with much worse conditions due to Wisconsin's lovely winters.
National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week is a really great time for us to get involved in an issue that must be addressed. We students can and should make a difference. I hope that you participate in at least one event during this week, and perhaps together we can really gain awareness for the hungry and homeless of this nation, because they need our help very badly.
Danielle Werder (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a sophomore majoring in political science and social welfare.