Students use class project to advocate homelessness awareness

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By: Jasmine Bowie

Taking classes on WKU’s campus can fulfill major requirements as well as influence the way you think about and approach certain issues.  Diversity and Social Injustice did just that for students Kendre Fulks and Rebecca Katz.  The class is a requirement for the certificate program at the Institute of Citizenship and Social Responsibility (ICSR) and also satisfies credits in religious studies, Katz’s major and marketing, Fulk’s major.   The class requires groups of four to choose a social issue in the Bowling Green community and come up with a practical solution for this issue though awareness, advocacy, and volunteerism.

For their project Katz and Fulks along with two others in their group, facilitated a five question survey pertaining to homelessness.   The survey was taken at Downing University Center and asked basic questions about the homelessness population such as: which state has the most homeless people per capita, what do you think a homeless person looks like, and why do you think homelessness occurs. The group then took the questions and results to Shantytown, a WKU event in which students build shanties to sleep in to understand firsthand the problems of homelessness, and asked the participants what they thought about the issue and also about the effectiveness of the event itself. Through presenting this information, participants became more aware of the myths and stereotypes associated with the homeless.  To further advocate, the group analyzed the effectiveness of the event and contacted Housing and Residence life; (HRL) to suggest ways to improve the program for the future.  The group also volunteered at the Salvation Army soup kitchen, serving food to the homeless in the Bowling Green community.

This project that was an effort to make people more aware of the issues that the homeless face, advocate for better treatment, debunk common myths, and help the homeless be perceived as human beings.  Fulks’s believes that the issues the homeless face are rarely ever talked about and need to be addressed. For Katz, these small grassroots projects are all a part of building stronger, closer communities, because ultimately it is the community that can solve these problems better than outside actors.  Overall, projects like this help us understand that the initiative provided by class can really impact the way students engage the community around them.

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