USF student "sleepout" tries to raise more awareness about the homeless

Tonight on the USF Tampa campus, a group of students intend to put a focus on the homeless situation by simulating a homeless camp on the campus grounds for one night.

Christy Burke is assistant director of the USF Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement.  She says tonight's event is part of  National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week , where universities across the country are holding similar  ‘Campus Sleepout’ events.  But she says that the environment being created on the campus is nothing like how most homeless contend with the elements.

Food and water will be available for the students participating in the project, which begins at 6p.m. tonight.

Robin Mansour is in her second year of studies at a student in Biomedical Sciences, and the student coodinator for the event.  She says in light of the recent (non)actions by the Hillsborough County Commission regarding the homeless,  students tonight  will take part in an activity where they'll break up into small groups to discuss legislation and other recent news about the homeless.

Mansour says, "homelessness is becoming such an issue with the economy,  and a lot of the sterotypes are starting to disappear.  We desperately need to shelter these these people, most of them who aren’t dangerous, and aren’t predominantly drug and alcohol abusers."

On the day Hillsborough Commissioners rejected the proposed tent city style of housing for the homeless last month, one resident in East Lake , Linda Hinson, was quoted in the New York Times as saying “I don’t have to go out and get a gun.”

That comment stunned Robin Mansour.  "It's a little shocking," she said, adding, "there's a lot of fear and stigma of the homeless out there."

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