The other side of the city

Cold winds buffeted Northern Kentucky University’s campus as members of the Sociology Club set up the cardboard village on the university plaza. Members dressed warm for the weather and worked quickly to construct a tent out of rope, sticks and tarps – their only source of shelter. It is slightly warmer on the inside of the makeshift tent for those seeking refuge from the inconvenient weather. Six members of the club sit around and tell stories and eat homemade chicken noodle soup and chili, as they prepare to bed down for a night.

Members of the Sociology Club brought the cardboard village back to NKU on March 22 in an effort to educate students about homelessness in the area.

The goal of the event was aimed towards students’ understanding that homelessness is a major issue and hoped that by living outside for 24 hours, students would understand how hard it is for those individuals struggling with homelessness on a daily basis.

Many of the members have seen homelessness firsthand, so helping out may be more personal for some. Rachelle Nadler said she encountered homelessness for the first time in San Diego, Calif. when she saw a disheveled man resting his head on a tire stop in a parking lot.

The club’s membership count has not been consistently high; roughly seven or eight members have attended. But they prove that size is not what matters.

“We may not be glamorous or huge, but were doing it,” said Kelly Beane, vice president of the Sociology Club, said.

The current members have already executed two food and supply drops in the Over the Rhine area of Cincinnati and plan on doing a third ­in the near future. Beane said that the second one went better than the first, and he hopes that the third drop will be the best yet.

Students can help by donating items to the Drop Inn Center (a homeless shelter and advocacy center located in Cincinnati) or place items in the Sociology Club’s drop areas here on campus, located in Landrum 217. Items needed: new underwear, new sweat pants, belts and razors, as well as other toiletries.

According the Drop Inn Center, there are nearly 8,400 confirmed people that are without homes in Cincinnati — of that number, 25 percent are children, 38 percent suffer from mental illness and 13 percent are veterans.

Story by Vern Hockney