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Sleep Out on Quad Wednesday

Ashley Tripp

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At first, the act of sleeping may seem like an illogical way to raise awareness, but students from across campus are coming together at its heart to sleep on the Quad and encourage student awareness of homelessness.

On April 10 at 8 p.m., students will have the opportunity to raise awareness by participating in the Community Service Center’s annual Sleep Out on the Quad.

This interactive, educational event gives students a new perspective on the issues of homelessness, hunger and poverty through trivia games, activities and a “Faces of Hunger and Homelessness” panel discussion. Students will also watch the movie “Pursuit of Happyness,” and a short TOMS documentary sponsored by UA Housing and Residential Communities.

UA Movement will be leading a TOMS midnight walk without shoes, in addition to other student groups leading activities of their own. Josh Sigler, president of Alabama International Justice Mission, said he is most excited about the collaboration aspect.

“Whether it’s a global problem like slavery or a local problem like homelessness, injustice anywhere demands action, and I pray that this event will simply cultivate and give people an outlet to serve others in whatever capacity they feel called,” Sigler said.

Lisa Bochey, student director of hunger and homelessness at the Community Service Center, said she hopes students will become inspired to get involved in various volunteer opportunities in Tuscaloosa by attending Sleep Out on the Quad.

“While we do have lots of activities going on during the event to make it interactive and fun, students end up gaining the most out of the experience after giving up their bed for the night,” Bochey said. “Spending the entire night sleeping on the Quad gives students a perspective on what it might be like to experience homelessness.”

To help understand what the challenges are like for a homeless person, students are encouraged to bring a sleeping bag and rely on the bare necessities to sleep on the Quad.

“Many students are shocked to learn that homelessness exists even in our own community of Tuscaloosa,” Bochey said.

Andres Mendieta, a senior majoring in finance and economics, was one of the 400 students who participated in the Sleep Out on the Quad last year and said it was really eye-opening to hear more about poverty in the same regional area as The University of Alabama.

“We had a ton of speakers present on the hunger and homelessness issues that plague society today,” Mendieta said. “Because many of the speakers were local, we got to learn about issues within the Tuscaloosa area.”

As the current student director of Beat Auburn Beat Hunger, Mendieta said his passions derive from interacting with students in philanthropic events.

“The thing I’m most passionate about is really engaging students and allowing them to rethink their perspectives on poverty and hunger within Tuscaloosa,” Mendieta said. “These awareness events are immensely important in helping us gain a great sense of understanding of the issues people around us face every day.”

Camille Driver, the assistant director of hunger and homelessness awareness, said this is her first year with Sleep Out on the Quad and said she couldn’t be more thrilled.

“I am so excited to educate students on the issues and just have a great time,” Driver said. “I think students will be shocked to learn about certain issues and will really get a lot out of the experience.”

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Sleep Out on Quad Wednesday