Huddled around their hammocks, tents and sleeping bags, students camped out on the Arts Quad on Tuesday night to show their solidarity with people struck by recent natural disasters around the world.
The camp-out was organized shortly after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria ravaged through the Caribbean and the southern coast of the United States, affecting many members of the Cornell community and their families.
“It has definitely taken a huge toll on everyone on campus,” Ashley Kim ’19 said. “Because it’s affecting our peers and the campus community as a whole, it’s a very emotional thing for the entire student body.”
Cornell Outdoor Education, one of the event’s sponsors, rented out sleeping bags and tents for students who stayed overnight, while some students brought their own supplies. The event was free, but students could contribute to the charitable fund for borrowing camping supplies.
Event volunteers ran a raffle booth with prizes including tickets to the Homecoming concert, featuring the band Foster the People, and gift cards to help raise additional funds for the cause.
Students were welcome to use provided glow sticks and light-up hula hoops and Frisbees, which illuminated the nighttime sky.
Some students who attended the camp-out had friends and family struck by the disasters and their devastating aftermath.
Tati Guzman ’18 said her family in South Florida and friends in Puerto Rico and Houston were struck by the hurricanes.
“They’re going through a rough time. I’m keeping in contact with them,” Guzman said.
“I have distant family who were in Florida and were affected by the hurricane,” said Germeen Kilada ’18, another student at the camp-out. “There’s some damage to their house and they just fixed it up two years ago from the previous hurricane.”
Students could donate to three different relief agencies at the event: Nepal, India and Bangladesh Flood Relief through GlobalGiving; Unidos por Puerto Rico; and Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Galveston-Houston.
Organizers of the camp-out selected those agencies after researching their effectiveness and impact.
“We did a lot of research to try to find organizations that were impactful and had good reputations in the area, ” said Zoe Maisel ’18, one of the event organizers.
The locations were chosen to represent different geographical regions throughout the world that are engaging in reconstruction efforts following disasters that have occurred over the past few months.
The camp-out — sponsored by the Cornell Outdoor Education club, Alpha Phi Omega, Gamma Chapter and the Puerto Rican Student Association at Cornell — raised $1,750, organizers announced on Wednesday on the event’s Facebook page. They added they were still accepting donations via Venmo (@artsquadcampout) until Thursday morning toward their goal of $2,000.
“I think a lot of people didn’t know how to help so it was important to create an easy way for people to access change,” Maisel said. “This is a great event because we had donations for everything we needed, so there were no upfront costs. Everything people donate is a net gain.”
The camp-out featured musical performances outside of Goldwin Smith Hall by The Key Elements, The Hangovers and the Cornell Ukulele Club, who all urged students to donate what they could to the worthy cause after their performances.
Ije Naachetta ’18 said it was important to address the hardships that others around the world are facing as a result of the disasters, and other students also agreed with her.
“You kind of get desensitized hearing the same thing over and over but you also need to think about how these are real people’s realities,” Naachetta said. “I’m not in a place of privilege but I do have enough privilege to give some money to help someone.”
“It’s important for us to be mindful of events going on that are not directly related to us,” said Callie Aboaf ’21. “It’s easy to get into a bubble of news when you only talk about what’s related to you.”