College students are often instructed to learn by thinking outside the box, but a Tennessee Tech University event to raise awareness of hunger and homelessness will have them sleeping inside boxes instead. TTU's Office of Residential Life is inviting students and faculty to turn the university's Main Quad into Cardboard City from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. on Thursday and Friday, March 17 and 18.
"We're encouraging students to sleep in a box for one night in recognition of those who have to sleep in one every night," said organizer Janice Berry, a Residential Life coordinator. "This is the kind of event that is beneficial for students because it takes them out of their comfort zones and puts them in the shoes of the people who are actually facing these issues. By spending one night in a box, they will hopefully learn to think a little more outside the box about hunger and homelessness."
Any individual or organization on campus may participate, and there is no registration procedure. Set-up will begin around 5:30 p.m. on the day of the event, and dinner will be provided on a first come, first served basis. The first 50 participants to arrive will also receive Cardboard City T-shirts. The event will officially kick off at 7 p.m. with featured speaker Larry Self, director of the Cookeville Rescue Mission. Boxes will be available for use at the event, but participants are encouraged to design and build their own pre-made cardboard box homes, Berry said.
"Just as the homeless have to do, we plan to cope with the weather to make this event happen," Berry said. "Cardboard City is being planned regardless of snow, rain or shine."
One of the few requirements for participants, she said, is that they cope for the night without the use of many electronic devices.
"Each participant is expected to bring his or her own pillow and blanket or sleeping bag, but with the exception of cell phones, there should be no other electronics present in Cardboard City," she said. "Students should leave their laptops, MP3 players and other electronic devices at home in an effort to better recreate the true experience of living without such modern conveniences."