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Students participating in the 2011 Sleep Out in the Quad event

AU Students and Staff to Sleep Out in the Quad to Raise Awareness for Homelessness

Students participating in the 2011 Sleep Out in the Quad event

Aurora, Ill.- On Friday Oct. 26 Aurora University will host its second annual Sleep Out in the Quad event. The event raises awareness for homelessness and is open to all AU students, faculty and staff. Ninety one have registered already.

Interested individuals can register until the day of the event by emailing their name and emergency contact number to Director of Student Leadership Kris Johnson. Of the event Johnson stated, “Students can expect to have an engaging evening full of eye opening experiences. They can expect to gain knowledge about issues and choices that may lead to homelessness. This will include presentations from people who have been homeless, including an Aurora University student.”

Sophomore Yaritza Yanez will lead a presentation on her past experience with homelessness. “Events like AU’s sleep out on the Quad, I believe can change perception because it gives people the opportunity to talk to those who are, or who have experienced homelessness, which in turn I think is extremely powerful itself to change perceptions. Events like this help people understand what a person has to go through on a daily basis and I think it gives people a better appreciation for what they have,” stated Yanez of the event.

Students participating need to check at the Wackerlin Center between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. The evening will begin with group discussions, Yanez’s presentation and education sessions in the Wackerlin Center and UHB before heading to the quad to sleep. Students need to provide their own sleeping accommodations and should plan accordingly for all weather possibilities.

Everyone participating is encouraged to bring 5 hygiene products for the hygiene drive. Students and staff who cannot participate in the event can donate products for the hygiene drive at the Crouse Center. The products will be donated to those in need.

Although most major cities have homeless shelters most cannot accommodate all of those in need according to a study conducted by National Coalition for the Homeless. The same study found that rural areas have few or no shelters despite large numbers of those in need.  The AU event hopes that students will have a better awareness and understanding of homelessness going forward.

Many people have a lot of misconceptions about what leads to homelessness. “People have this idea that people who are homeless choose to be homeless or that people who are homeless don’t want to get a job. My family didn’t choose to be homeless and my family was a typical hard working family. There were just circumstances were out of our control that led up to being homeless,” Yanez said of her past experience. This event works to break misconceptions.

“When I participated last year, I never thought I would become homeless, but that one night really opened my eyes to see what people have to go through on a daily basis. During my time being homeless, I thought about the people that I met at Sleep Out in the Quad, which in turn really helped me during that difficult time in my life,” Yanez stated. This year’s event aims to provide students the same eye opening experience.

The event is sponsored by the Wackerlin Center, the American Marketing Association, Aurora University Human Rights Organization (AUHRO), Sigma Delta Gamma Sorority, the Social Work Association (SWA) and the Aurora University Student Association (AUSA).

Sleep Out in the Quad offers the opportunity to make a difference in the community. “The overarching goal is to drive home the fact that we are all a part of humanity and this world can become a better place because of our actions,” says Johnson.

For more information or to register email Kris Johnson at kjohnson@aurora.edu