BSU hosts annual Tent City event to raise awareness

By Molly Bello
Comment Columnist

You may complain about the dorms at school, how uncomfortable the beds are, how small the rooms are, how annoying the chairs are, but it’s better than the sidewalk, or a cardboard box.
Tent City is an event put on by the Bridgewater State University’s Social Justice League every year during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (Nov. 17 -21). It is a simulation of homelessness and gives students a chance to experience it firsthand.
“[Tent City] raises awareness of the daily struggles of people experiencing homelessness,” Senior Sociology and Economics major Jared Costigan said. “It brings it to a more realistic level.”
“Students are given the opportunity to sleep out in the RCC Fountain areas in tents or even on the benches, to get a full feel of living on the streets,” senior sociology major Victoria Hordern said. “Some students take it even further and leave all electronics at home, and use the library and Kelly Gym locker rooms.”
As the President and Vice President of the Social Justice League, Costigan and Hordern help organize Tent City. There are speakers every night that lead to a discussion about issues surrounding homelessness and specific causes. Bridgewater State alumna Melissa Braden spoke on Nov. 19 about Habitat for Humanity in Worcester, where she currently works.
On Nov. 20, alumnus Brandon Reynolds spoke of Father Bill’s homeless shelter, where he is heavily involved, and brought a resident and friend to share his personal story. “We talked about couch surfing as a form of homelessness,” Costigan said. “People won’t admit they are homeless. They have a lot of pride and refuse to go into shelters. They’d rather live on the street.”
They shone a light on a part of the homeless population that is usually hidden: college students. Costigan emphasized that students who were accepted into college and once had the financial means to pay for it, can suddenly be faced with a devastating change in lifestyle.
“Having these events on campus is very important because it brings about awareness of our world,” Hordern said. “College students can become absorbed in the world of college life, and it can be hard to educate people on a topic that may not hit home for them. When a student can actually experience it, that’s when they understand the severity of the issue.”
We can be quick to judge, and are conditioned to look down on those experiencing homelessness. “Stigmatization of this population is something we’re raised with,” Costigan said. “People think they are all drug addicts, when approximately only 40% are. That means 60% aren’t. There are systematic causes of this, it’s not the person’s fault.”
“When you first see someone [that is homeless], your first reaction is what you are conditioned to think. The second reaction is what you think and your value systems. Then you react with more knowledge and understanding.” Both Hordern and Costigan recommend others participate in Tent City and similar events.
Even though Tent City is over, there are numerous ways students can still get involved in the fight against homelessness and hunger. According to Costigan, the Community Service Center hosts trips once or twice monthly to Father Bill’s in Brockton, with food provided by Sodexo. Students can sign up online in order to attend.
The new BSU Food Bank located in RCC is always accepting donations. The Social Justice League is a great resource for students looking to get involved. They meet every Thursday in the Burrill Office Complex at 5p.m. Other clubs on campus that focus on social justice issues include: Free the Children, Mentors for Friends, Mentors for Change, and many others.
Costigan leaves you with an important message, “Challenge yourself to have a conversation with someone experiencing homelessness before you place them in a box.”

Molly Bello is a Comment Columnist. Follow her on Twitter at @mollybello.

+ posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


All the Love for One Love

After growing up listening to his music, I was absolutely thrilled to hear that Bob Marley was going to hit the big screen. Director Reinaldo Marcus Green (he/him) adapted a film based on Marley’s life that traces of journey of how he became the king of reggae music worldwide. If I were to end the […]

One Day Is a Must Watch for Rom-Com Lovers.

One Day is a new Netflix original series based on the novel of the same name, written by David Nicholls (he/him). The series was created by Nicole Taylor (she/her) and stars Ambika Mod (she/her) as Emma Morley and Leo Woodall (he/him) as Dexter Mayhew.  The story begins the night of their graduation party from University […]

Madame Web Is Something Else

Well, it was at least funny. Not exactly when it’s supposed to be funny, but it certainly had me laughing. From the trailers and how other Sony Pictures films made in association with Marvel have gone, this film didn’t stand a chance. From the acting, to the cinematography, and the editing, there overall isn’t that […]

A Review of an Insane Play

Have you ever hated your life? Truly hated it to the point that you question your sanity? This play is about that. Directed by BSU student Yahaira Torres (she/her), The Insanity of Mary Girard is about a woman in an institute questioning her sanity while looking back at her life. The play takes place in […]