Deserting the dorms

Denise Wright

Students sleep outside in boxes in Risman Plaza to raise awareness for those without a place to call home

Students gather in Risman Plaza late last night to prepare for the Habitat for Humanity Sleep-Out. CAITLIN PRARAT | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

More than 40 Kent State students slept in a box last night.

Students built and slept in boxes in Risman Plaza during the Habitat for Humanity Annual Sleep-Out, which was held from 9 p.m. last night to 9 a.m. this morning.

Aside from building boxes, free food was being given out along with a $20 gift certificate for Taco Tanto’s for the most elaborate “house.”

Students also gained insight into the lives of three women who had been homeless before having a home built through Habitat.

The speakers played a key role in providing attendees with details from their own experiences of living life without a home, which was the overall goal of the program.

“Our main goal for this is to bring about awareness of homelessness,” said Alison Ramsay, president of Habitat and senior deaf education major. “We want to get as many people outside in boxes as possible.”

Sophomore biochemistry major Katherine Wingate said she was there primarily to listen to the speakers and to become more aware of homelessness.

Alicia Williams, sophomore early childhood major, on the other hand, seemed ready to camp out for the night.

“I did it last year and it was a lot of fun,” Williams said. “I think it’s a good cause.”

While students were able to bring blankets and warm clothing for the night, they were asked not to bring electronics, such as cell phones and laptops, in order to get the full effect of being homeless.

“You want to stay towards the minimum of what to bring,” Ramsay said. “You want to stay as true to the homelessness as possible.”

This was Habitat’s fifth consecutive year holding the event.

“It’s rained every year I’ve done it,” Ramsay said. “We tried having it earlier this year because last year it was at the end of October.”

Ramsay said her perspective has really broadened since becoming a member of Habitat because she has become more aware of homelessness in the area.

“There are homeless people in Kent,” Ramsay said. “There are homeless people that are in surrounding areas, not just big cities.”

Wingate agreed, saying, “I think of big cities because I don’t really see it in small towns, but I know it can be anywhere.”

Besides raising awareness, funds were also raised for local homeless shelters. A donation can was passed around for students to contribute. Money was also raised through both flat-rate donations and by the hour, which was calculated using a pledge sheet. Students were asked to sign in upon arriving and leaving.

Cardboard was also donated by various local hardware stores and businesses.

The box homes certainly helped to simulate a feeling of homelessness.

“We wanted to give a visual representation of the lowest of the low homelessness,” Ramsay said.

For more information, e-mail Habitat for Humanity at [email protected].

Contact honors and international affairs reporter Denise Wright at [email protected].