March 1, 2007

Dinner Donations Benefit Darfur

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Diners at Carl Becker House last night enjoyed a feast for the eyes, ears and palate. Becker House Council sponsored a dinner benefit for Darfur, complete with African cuisine and entertainment.

Raffle tickets were sold at the door for $1, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Dollars for Darfur campaign. This campaign is run by the Save Darfur Coalition, which raises awareness about and works to end the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

Tables were adorned by green, black and red linens in honor of Darfur. Modern African-influenced food was served.

“We started planning well before winter break,” said Jason Beekman ’08, a Becker House Council member who helped to coordinate the event. “We wanted to raise money and awareness about the genocide in Sudan because it is something the community can really rally around and help. The government isn’t doing enough.”

Despite the food and décor, the overall theme of the night was raising awareness.

“We are not here to celebrate,” remarked Arvind Chandrasekar, a graduate residence fellow at Becker House and the emcee of the evening. “This is not a celebration, but rather, we are here to express our support of the people in Darfur.”

Prof. Salah Hassan, a native of Sudan and the director of the Africana Studies and Research Center, spoke to attendees about the importance of not only ending the genocide, but understanding its underlying causes.

Hassan encouraged students, faculty, and staff alike to question what their goals are in activism, not only regarding Darfur, but all areas of the world.

“As an activist myself, I would like to see a person concerned with Darfur, but also that same person concerned with racism on campus, the killings in Iraq, peace in the Middle East,” he said. “Activists need to think about what they want to accomplish.”

Students were encouraged to “arm themselves with knowledge about Sudan” by Hassan, and a table of books and articles about Sudan and the genocide was available for viewing.

“Firsthand knowledge of life in Sudan is such an asset to have at Cornell,” said Dan Gologorsky ’08. “Hassan’s talk brings a fresh perspective to [the] discussion. … It helps students to see the context of the genocide in a country, and not just view Darfur as this issue that grabs our attention.”

Many faculty and staff members were on hand to hear Hassan speak and enjoy the dinner.

“I find it interesting how little most of this audience knows about … Sudan and Sudan’s composure,” said Rick Canfield, a research associate in nutritional sciences. “People jump to Darfur because it grabs their attention. We want to help alleviate suffering, and getting to know Sudan as a nation as Hassan encouraged will help us to do that best.”