SRU students lived in cardboard boxes in the quad from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning through a revamped simulation called Cardboard Village, which provides students the opportunity to understand the reality of homelessness.
The event was hosted by SRU fraternity, Kappa Sigma, and community service sorority, Gamma Sigma Sigma and sponsored by the Community Volunteer Corps. Brandon Kraeer, junior exercise science major and secretary for Kappa Sigma, and Emily Eichner, senior secondary English education major and membership vice president for Gamma Sigma Sigma, co-headed the event together.
Eichner explained that Cardboard Village is an opportunity for students to fundraise money and other goods for the homeless, while participating in a simulation that allows the students to understand what it is actually like be homeless by living in the quad for an 18-hour period. The simulation helps break away from the negative stigma that comes along with homelessness.
“A lot of people who are homeless are just dealt a bad hand,” she said, explaining that not all of the homeless are bad people.
Student organizations paid a registration fee of $20 to participate and reserve a spot in the quad. About 50 different student organizations participated in the event. Eichner noted that a majority of the participants were upperclassmen.
“This is one of the last big bangs [upperclassmen] can make before they go into the real world,” she said.
All proceeds went to the Lighthouse Foundation, which is a Butler County-based organization that helps people in need.
“We’re going to raise about $600 for the Lighthouse Foundation at this point,” Eichner said.
Students that participated in the event checked in on Thursday at 2 p.m. and had two hours to build their cardboard shelter.
Kraeer explained all organizations were responsible for bringing their own materials to build their shelter. Students were permitted to bring cardboard boxes, wood, four cement bricks, tarps, duct tape and a few other items as supplies for their shelter. The shelters had to be finished by 5 p.m. for judging. Awards were given to the most practical shelter, the most creative shelter and to the organization that did the most fundraising in addition to the registration fee.
“We have three judges doing that,” Kraeer said.
The last time Cardboard Village was done at SRU was in 2012, Eichner said.
“[Cardboard Village] sometimes sparks a bit of controversy,” she said.
The last time, there were a few participants who brought drugs and alcohol to the event.
Kraeer stressed that students participating in this year’s Cardboard Village were aware of all of the rules including abiding by the SRU student code of conduct, no use of open flames in the village area, no littering and no disrespectful behavior. Kappa Sigma and Gamma Sigma Sigma had SRU campus police patrol the area to ensure that all participants were following the rules.
In addition to the rules, it was a requirement that two to six students were representing their organization at all times. These students worked in shifts of three to four hours
During the last Cardboard Village, participating students were only able to bring one item along with them inside the shelter.
This year students were able to bring as many items as they needed, as Kappa Sigma and Gamma Sigma Sigma felt this promoted a sense of community among all of the students that were participating in the event.
“We want to make sure that people bring things not because we want things to be more glamorized, but we want people to be more social,” Eichner said.
Gamma Sigma Sigma and Kappa Sigma provided entertainment throughout the night including music and open microphone night. A soup kitchen was set up at 6 p.m. on Thursday evening for participating students and AVI provided coffee on Friday morning at 7:30 a.m.
“It’s been a very very long process to ensure that everything has been what we wanted,” Eichner said.