Two Memorial University of Newfoundland students won’t be in class for 10 days starting later this week. But they’ve got a good reason. They’re packing up their sleeping bags and pillows to camp out in one of the most high-profile areas on the St. John’s campus in an effort to raise money as part of national fundraiser and promote a student-run literacy group on campus.
Danielle Barron, a fifth-year geography student from Mount Pearl, and Samantha White, a fifth-year joint honours student in neuroscience and statistics who is from the Goulds, will spend more than a week literally living in the main lobby of the Queen Elizabeth II Library. There, they’ll set up a tent and study, hang-out, complete homework and sleep on a small plot of space front and centre in the lobby.
It’s all part of unique fundraiser known as Live-in for Literacy which runs nationally from Jan. 18-28, 2008.
Memorial is one of only four universities taking part in the event which will raise money for the organization Room to Read. The goal is to raise $5,000 on each campus to help build libraries in Nepal, which has one of the lowest literacy rates in Asia.
Live-in for Literacy began two years ago at Queen’s University in Ontario. This year organizers wanted to pan out across the country and make it a national event. Students at Memorial, as well as Laurentian University, the University of British Columbia and Queen’s jumped at getting involved.
“I saw the group on Facebook towards the end of November and they were looking for participants at Memorial,” said Ms. Barron. Both she and Ms. White are volunteers with the group Students for Literacy @ MUN.
“My initial thought was we have to do this. At the time, I didn’t know how involved we would become but knew I just wanted it. Now it’s game time.”
The two will spend their 10-days promoting the fundraiser to passersby, collecting donations and trying to live as normal a life as possible all in the centre of the QE II lobby.
Arrangements have been made with the duo’s professors to deal with missed classes and labs and the two will have a computer with them so they hope to keep up with their workloads.
They said the university has very supportive of their 10-day live-in from the beginning.
“Libraries are about learning and reading, so the Live-In for Literacy cause fits well with this mandate,” added Lorraine Busby, university librarian at Memorial. “We are thrilled Danielle and Samantha are going to call the QE II ‘home’ for such a great cause.”
The campers will be allowed out of their special living area for five minutes each hour. They’re allowed to bank those minutes to accumulate time to shower in the nearby Works facility. They’ll receive donated food from local businesses, the university community, friends and even strangers to keep them going and will have access to a staff lunch room.
Meantime, Campus Enforcement and Patrol surveillance cameras will be adjusted towards the living area for 24 hour surveillance, and the two will have cell phones with them in case of an emergency.
“We got involved essentially because it was such an outrageous idea and we knew it would attract attention,” said Ms. White, who added she hoped the live-in also attracts attention to literacy issues both on a local and international scale.
She said not only will they promote the Live-in for Literacy concept, but they’ll also talk to people about the work their group, Students for Literacy @ MUN, does in the local community.
“We want the university community to know who we are, what we do and what they can do to help us,” she noted. “We are hoping the live-in will inspire people to get involved.”
More information about Live-in for Literacy 2008 is available at www.queensdream.ca or people can drop by the QE II Library anytime beginning at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 18 until 2:30 on Monday, Jan. 28.
To make a donation to the cause, call 737-3111.