Sunday, May 31

Event to highlight homelessness at UCLA

The organizers of BruINTENT are offering students words of advice grounded in civic duty: Sleep outside for a night so someone else won’t have to.

The Undergraduate Students Association Council president’s office is sponsoring BruINTENT, an event focused on educating the student body about the problem of homelessness and hunger in the L.A. area.

BruINTENT will be held today through Friday, and organizers said they hope to highlight the plight of homeless UCLA students on campus facing severe hardships.

“The project started as a means of helping the homeless on Skid Row,” said Salomon Hossein, a third-year political science and international development studies student and program director for BruINTENT.

During a staff meeting with the organizers of BruINTENT, a student had brought up her own struggle with homelessness on campus. Her story prompted the group to change the project into one that helps homeless Bruins as well, Hossein added.

The overnight fundraising event will feature tents accommodating four to five students each, guest speakers and performances. There is a suggested donation of $6.

“Fifty percent of the proceeds will go to a private grant that will distribute the funds to students in need,” USAC President Homaira Hosseini said.

Hosseini said that some students are ineligible for any federal aid due to their undocumented legal status. Other students, who are not AB 540 students but have recently unemployed parents due to the economic crisis, also struggle because their financial aid often does not cover food or housing.

“Students are forced to sleep in the library and shower in the gym,” Hossein said.

The private grant will allow such students to receive funds to cover such basics as food and shelter.

Students in need have access to a food bank sponsored by the Community Programs Office as well as meal vouchers offered by UCLA Student Affairs.

“The other half of the proceeds will go directly to Chrysalis, a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding employment for those without jobs and in disadvantageous situations,” Hosseini said.

In 2008 alone, there were 80,000 homeless who slept on the streets of Los Angeles every night, according to the BruINTENT Web site.

The event will feature a documentary made by the USAC president’s office that details the day-to-day life of a homeless UCLA student.

“This is a really important event for the UCLA community because we are looking to start to alleviate some of the problems facing both students and others in the L.A. area,” said Yannina Casillas, a second-year undeclared student, working with the organizers of BruINTENT.

“Students are citizens of both the campus and the community,” Hosseini said.

“This issue transcends the boundaries of Westwood, and students should be aware of the opportunities available to them to fulfill their civil service,” she added.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. today at the Sunset Canyon Recreation Center and will run until 10 a.m. Friday.

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