The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Shack City appears on South Quad

Amanda Gray | Monday, April 20, 2009

Several dozen Notre Dame students spent Friday night sleeping on South Quad for Shack City 2009, an annual event sponsored by Notre Dame Habitat for Humanity.

“Shack City is an annual awareness and fundraising event our club holds on campus,” said senior Jaime Amrhein, the co-president of Habitat for Humanity at Notre Dame. “We sleep out in cardboard boxes overnight on South Quad to raise awareness about the way in which many people in our country, even in this area, live each night.”

Junior Mike Rohman, one of two co-chairs for the event, was also very enthusiastic about Shack City.

“With the display of the boxes and guest speakers, we hope to remind people of actual substandard housing in this country and abroad,” Rohman said.

The event is very helpful as a fundraiser for the group’s activities, like building a house in the area, Rohman said.

“Notre Dame is the only University in the country to finance and build its own house,” Rohman said. “Needless to say, these types of fundraisers are very important for us as we raise the $60,000 needed to construct our house.”

The event organizers said they were pleased by the turnout.

“The turnout was fantastic,” Rohman said. “We had 50 or 60 people spend the night, which is twice the number from last year.”

Rohman credits the good weather with helping the large turnout.

“For years, it had been cold and raining for every Shack City,” he said.

Jim Williams, the executive director of the St. Joseph County Habitat for Humanity, and Notre Dame senior Michael McDonald, who is involved with local poverty issues, spoke to the Shack City dwellers.

“This event is a beautiful start,” McDonald said. “Hopefully it will inspire people to go to South Bend and become friends with individuals who are homeless.”

McDonald said there is a big difference between the word “homeless” and the phrase “individuals who are homeless.”

“‘Homeless’ has a stigma, a tendency to dehumanize,” McDonald said. “Whereas ‘individuals who are homeless’ give individuality.”

Freshman Ashley Havens and Christina Chavarin built a large shelter for the night.

“We started hearing people talking about it and we got excited because we weren’t just sleeping in boxes,” Chavarin said. “You get to know people.”

During the event, Finance professor Carl Ackermann held games at a ping pong table, Rohman said.

“He made a very generous donation at the end of his hour-long run,” Rohman said. “For every point scored on him, he donated a dollar to Habitat [for Humanity].”