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Howard Hall’s totter on South Quad funds clean water, builds community

| Monday, September 18, 2023

Sakura Yamanaka | The Observer
Howard Hall’s Totter for Water fundraiser on South Quad ran from 5 p.m. on Thursday to 5 p.m. Friday.

On Thursday and Friday, Howard Hall held their signature event, Totter for Water, a 24-hour fundraiser that raises money for Engineers Without Borders, a Notre Dame club and a national organization dedicated to clean water access in communities across the globe.

The event, held on South Quad, began Thursday at 5 p.m. and ended Friday at 5 p.m., and the proceeds from the 2023 edition of Totter for Water will go toward a community in Ecuador.

During the course of the event, Howard Hall residents took shifts operating the totter, and Notre Dame community members were encouraged to take rides with a suggested donation of $2.

According to the hall, planning began as soon as school started for the fall semester. This year’s commissioners were three junior engineering students: Emily Colleran, Anna Fent and Alex Bobbit. 

Ashby Whitaker, a sophomore political science and global affairs student, manned the event during the final shift. She said Howard Hall chose to donate to Engineers Without Borders because of the high concentration of STEM students in their hall. 

“While there are many girls [in Howard] who are also members of the actual club, our dorm does this on its own because it’s mostly a STEM dorm, and that’s in conjunction with engineers,” Whitaker said.

Taylor Girard, a sophomore mechanical engineering student who was operating the event with Whitaker, is a part of the Engineers Without Borders club. According to Girard, the totter’s proceeds will go towards two present issues: treatments for cleaning water supply and building a new water tank.

“The Engineer Without Borders club helps to provide basic human resources to communities around the world that need it. So right now, we’re going to try and improve water quality in communities in Ecuador,” Girard said. “In the club, we’re researching treatments that are going to be helpful in cleaning their water, and then I think we’re also looking to rebuild the water tank that stores water for the community.”

Girard explained that the water tanks the club has been mapping out would cost upwards of $30,000.

Howard Hall used social media to spread the word about Totter for Water, encouraging residents to share an Instagram post with information about the event. 

“On Tuesday, we also [direct messaged] campus celebrities with information about the event. We reached out to Marcus Freedman and Sam Hartman, and we hoped they would come and bring some press,” Girard said. 

The 24-hour nature of the event served as a fun way for students to take a break during studying. Julia Dunn, a freshman physics major in McGlinn Hall, said she and her friends decided to visit the teeter totter at 2 a.m. in the middle of an intense homework session. 

“The Howard Teeter Totter was a unifying experience, and the all-night aspect made everything even more exciting,” Dunn said. “Despite the fact that I fell off, or rather, was catapulted off by a friend, it was absolutely worth it.”

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