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ND-8 simulates poverty

Lindsay Sena | Friday, March 28, 2008

World poverty awareness group ND-8 tried to simulate experiences of those living in extreme poverty by dividing students into different socioeconomic groups during the second annual Hunger Banquet Thursday in the Coleman-Morse Center.

“We are here because 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $1 a day,” freshman Coleen Halloran said.

ND-8 officer Christie Hannon, who was the chief planner of the Hunger Banquet, said she hoped students left the banquet with a “better awareness of the reality of the people that live in poverty, and also an appreciation of what we have.”

When students arrived at the banquet, event organizers asked them to pull a card at random from a bag. Each card contained the name, socioeconomic status and life story of a character whose identity participants would assume for the evening.

Organizers divided students into high, middle and low-income groups, according to the actual statistical divisions of the respective 15 percent, 25 percent and 60 percent of each class.

After the students were seated – the high-income at tables and the low-income barefoot on the floor – Hannon said to illustrate the real-life scenario, the high-income would receive a catered dinner of salad, pasta and cheesecake while the middle-class would receive rice and beans and the lower-class would receive only rice.

The men were asked to serve themselves first, based on the students’ assigned identities.

“Some people have the good fortune to change their lives for the better, but for most the circumstances of life are determined by factors outside their control,” Boyle said.

ND-8 officer Michael Ellerhorst emphasized the importance of spreading the word about hunger to students and faculty around campus.

“You don’t really think about it … you go to the dining hall and there’s more food than you could ever want … a lot of people don’t have access to [food] around the world,” he said.