Students sleep outside for 24th annual homelessness vigil

By Janelle Mathews

Campus Life Editor

On Thursday, Feb. 16, students in Tom Thibodeau’s homelessness class held a 12-hour vigil outside in Assisi Courtyard, behind Murphy Center, to raise awareness about the problem of homelessness. These students were outside from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. the next morning.

Many of these students had class­es the next day.

“Tomorrow when I have to go to my classes without sleep will be very interesting, and I’m most wor­ried about just getting through the day,” said Emily Aerts, a junior so­cial work major from Marshfield, Wis.

The event was called a vigil be­cause they had certain comforts that actual homeless people probably would not have. They had food, a fire, coffee supplies, and the ability to go inside whenever they wanted or needed.

President Rick Artman stopped by with snacks for the students and a message of inspiration.

Derek Freese, a senior studio art major from Sauk Rapids, Minn., said, “I have a bed waiting for me the next day; whereas, homeless people do not always have that op­tion.”

Aerts echoed Freese’s comment, saying, “I have the privilege of go­ing back to warmth and a bed. This is only one day; it is not my life.”

Students prepared for this vigil throughout the entire semester by listening to speakers and doing ac­tivities earlier this semester. In ad­dition, students formed committees that were responsible for certain aspects of the vigil, such as getting firewood, getting boxes, or publiciz­ing the event.

When asked what she wanted to get out of the 12-hour period, Aerts said, “I want to help bring aware­ness to the issue of homelessness to our community and the world.”

“Homelessness is a real thing that does happen to people,” said Freese. “I want to be an advocate, instead of hypocritical.”

The homelessness vigil has been going on for 24 years and is one of the main highlights of the homeless­ness class.

“I think I will have learned how to be more appreciative of things that I have by the end of this semes­ter,” Freese said.

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