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Out in the cold

Students spotlight homelessness

More than 200 students participated in events in front of Robinson Hall on Nov. 18 as part of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

Susan DeBevoise Wright discusses homelessness after 10 students slept out in front of Robinson Hall on a night when temperatures approached freezing. (photo courtesy of the Tucker Foundation)

"Homelessness in the Upper Valley affects so many people due to the fact that housing in this area is by no means affordable," said Vanessa Vega '05, who organized the sleep-out.

According to Vega, such a situation "leaves people living beyond their means and makes them susceptible to fluctuations in job availability."

According to the Vermont Housing Awareness Campaign, the average purchase price for a home in that state is $150,000. In 2003, only one in six Vermont homes was affordable to a Vermont family earning an average income. In New Hampshire, most of the new buildings constructed are "high-end" homes, which means they are too expensive for people earning median incomes. More than 500 children are homeless in New Hampshire, according to the New Hampshire Housing Forum.

A sleep-out was sponsored by the Tucker Foundation and the Dartmouth Outing Club. Students read testimonials from homeless members of the Upper-Valley community and collected food donations for local shelters. Ten students camped out on the Robinson lawn for the night and were joined by Dartmouth First Lady Susan DeBevoise Wright when they awoke. She applauded the week-long effort, which raised more than $2,000 for Upper-Valley relief programs.

"These students know something more this morning than they did yesterday about what it's like to have no shelter or home to call their own," Wright said later that day. "We so admire our students and graduates who act to serve others in need."


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Last Updated: 12/17/08