In the cold weather early Monday night, three Santa Fe College students and one adviser pitched tents on the Oak Grove to experience, for one night, what it’s like to be homeless.
Santa Fe hosted the event. As of press time, Recruitment and Training Director Benjamin Myers said six to seven people had arrived for the event.
Santa Fe Student Senate Pro-Tempore Matthew Pearson was one of the people who attended. The 24-year-old political science sophomore pitched his tent at about 5:30 p.m., just shortly before the sun fully set.
"It’s already been a humbling experience," Pearson said before the event began.
The event was announced at last week’s Santa Fe Student Senate meeting and advertised on eSantaFe’s homepage. It ran from 6 p.m. Monday to 6 a.m. today.
SG Events Chairman Jacobi Bedenfield said the idea was to let students simulate and experience for one night what it was like to be homeless.
On Saturday, Danny Speagle, a homeless Santa Fe student who gave SG the idea for the event, began a second hunger strike, demanding lawmakers in Tallahassee and Washington better assist disabled, homeless students like himself.
"Wow, that’s crazy," Bedenfield said when he heard about Speagle’s decision to go on a second hunger strike. "That’s why we’re bringing up this issue so we can do something about it."
"If he’s on a hunger strike, I’ll fight with him," Bedenfield said later.
Monday’s event was part of an initiative by Pearson and other SG members to help homeless college students. Pearson said he recently wrote a bill to present to Florida legislatures to have colleges track and report their homeless student populations.
The goal is to put a spotlight on a problem colleges "overlook or don’t know about," Pearson said.
With Speagle’s decision to go on a second hunger strike, Pearson said he would like to extend the event for another night. As of press time, a second event is unconfirmed.