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The Charger Bulletin

Box City on Hold… For Now

Ben Atwater

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Here in college, most of us are subjecting ourselves to thousands of dollars of debt and desperately hoping that we will find jobs to pay back that debt and establish a lifestyle. For many, student loans are a prison sentence, confining us to a lifestyle of working only to pay off debt that we have no foreseeable ways of paying back.

While these problems are certainly not insignificant, it is incredibly easy to forget that we are living in a bubble that is the campus community.   There is a whole world out there, and there are people with much larger problems than us right on our doorstep. Plaguing New Haven is a homeless population of over 700. Gravitating towards downtown, homeless citizens occupy the Green, a 16-acre park right smack within the middle of New Haven. Instead of living in the first world problems on campus, Students Making an Impact on their Living Environment (SMILE) club has decided to do something about it.

Jeanny Francois is a junior majoring in Biology who is serving as SMILE’s primary USGA representative for the 2015-2016 school year. Francois took the time to talk about SMILE’s efforts to address the problem of the homeless in New Haven.

“One day, one of our club members was walking downtown and noticed the abundance of homeless individuals living in literal cardboard boxes,” she said. “Their possessions, what few they had, were spread out all over the ground, not put away at all. The fact that this happens every day so close to campus, and no one talks about it just seemed wrong.”

Because of this, SMILE decided to bring awareness to the issue by planning an event called Box City.

Box City was intended to be an event held the night of Nov. 21 in the Bixler/Botwinik quad. Teams of four students could sign up to bring a box at 8 p.m., and the teams would essentially spend the entire night in their boxes to emulate the homeless people who do this every single night.

“Each team member of the four person team was required to raise $30, which would be donated to local charities that help the homeless,” Francois said.

Similar in nature to Up Til’ Dawn, Box City would not be merely a sleepover in a box.

“Events would have been held throughout the night, such as stories, games, and snacks,” Francois added.

Due to lack of sign ups, Box City was cancelled.
“While it was unfortunate that sign ups were not as anticipated, by no means consider Box City cancelled,” Francois said. “We are merely postponing the event until next semester, when there will be more time for advertising and increased attendance.”

SMILE still plans to continue hosting philanthropic events, such as the annual MS Walk, as well as having two teams in Up Til’ Dawn this February. Look out for Box City next semester!

In the meantime, as the holidays approach, keep the season of giving in mind. While giving money to the homeless is not always the best idea due to questionable uses of it, there are several local charities such as Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen or the Columbus House.

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The Student News Source of the University of New Haven
Box City on Hold… For Now