By Elizabeth Sekkes
On April 4, the Institute for Social Justice held their seventh annual spring forum as part of the President’s Task Force to End Homelessness.
The event focused on regional homelessness, and various ways that the student body could serve the homeless. It also centered on ways in which to end the fight against homelessness.
The event garnered students’ interest on the topic of homelessness, and encouraged them to be a part of the change that the University hopes to see in terms of poverty and homelessness.
As the Bridgewater State website explains, “By involving our students in this most pressing and poignant issue, we will also develop a new group of scholars interested in pursuing housing and equality for all citizens.”
Keynote speaker Dr. Jim O’Connell, who is the President of Boston Health Care for the Homeless, started off the forum by addressing the audience about his experience with helping people experiencing homelessness.
Melanie Mitchell, a senior psychology and English major, was one of the student speakers at the forum and said the event was a means to inform and educate others about the issue in various ways.
“Our panel spoke about alternative break trips and another panel spoke about residential learning communities, and we all touched upon various programs from Jumpstart to Tent City that all focus on homelessness,” Mitchell said. “It was an event that increased everyone’s knowledge, and was a call to action for everyone to do something about this issue.”
Mitchell said the first step in promoting awareness about the social justice issue of homelessness was to erase all negative generalizations that society has adhered to in terms of homeless individuals.
“I think this was an important event to have on campus because the first step to ending homelessness is increasing awareness about the issue,” Mitchell said. “My fellow panelists and I aimed to tell stories that confronted stereotypes that people may have about individuals experiencing homelessness.”
Melissa Kennedy, a junior athletic training major who was another student speaker, said the event was a good reminder that there is something being done to improve the issue of homelessness.
“I think that this event is good to hold on campus because it shows how much Bridgewater is dedicated to making a change in the world to make it a better place,” Kennedy said. “Everyone gets to see what others are doing to make changes in the world and they get to learn from one another. This knowledge can spark an interest in them to get involved with an organization or lead them to thinking of a different way to help the homeless.”
Elizabeth Sekkes is The Comment’s News Editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.