Putting on my winter coat and gloves, I joined my friend for moral support and company as she placed herself in the shoes of a homeless person. I found her wrapped up in blankets sitting on a cardboard box. She and her friends had set up several cardboard boxes to use as shelter. When asked if that kept them warm, one girl responded saying it might not actually be warm, but she felt it was doing an okay job keeping her warm. Mind over matter.
Students in the residential quad watched groups of people leave their residence halls not wearing jackets and complaining about the cold weather. They had money burning in their pockets. They walked past the shivering people, not looking twice and not offering anything.
One student leaned up against a pole, huddled in his sleeping bag, truly reminding me of my perception of someone who is homeless. He read a novel on and off. With no gloves on, I imagine he stopped reading when his hands got too cold and he had to get warmed up. The light from the light pole he leaned against may have been too faint to see. Glancing back at him, it was hard to tell if he was sleeping or fighting to keep his eyes open. Either way, he seemed to not be having a restful night.
I looked around to see what else was happening at 4 a.m. In the residential quad many visible students appeared to be sleeping, cuddling in their sleeping bags or some sort of equivalent to keep warm. In other directions, tents were set up, appearing more like occupy West Chester or a sleep out bonding experience.
Noticing a small group of people circling the area, my friends and I wondered what they were doing. The few that were still awake could not remember them from earlier. I searched our surroundings – school bags lay in plain sight, next to sleeping bodies or on the outside of tents. I would hope that no one would prey on college students sacrificing their warm beds to raise awareness. Realizing a greedy eye could see easy money and a quick getaway, I knew if I were spending the night, I wouldn’t be able to sleep and leave my belongings unattended. Then I realized people have to take that chance each night when they don’t have a roof over their heads.
Sleeping out may have even made students think of how thankful they are for what they have. A roof over their heads, a heated room, running water, the list is endless.
Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving break!
~ Ginger Rae, Quad Editor-in-Chief