Letter: Solidarity, not authenticity

Re: “Feel for the homeless” (Oct. 19): In Tuesday’s paper, Ned Downie ’14 criticized YHHAP’s Sleepout for failing to accurately recreate the conditions of homelessness and suggested that it prioritizes fun over “authenticity.” He went on to articulate a utopian vision wherein Yale students have finally come to understand the needs of the homeless and succeeded in eliminating endemic poverty.

I’d like to respond to these misguided statements.

Sleepout does not seek to expose Yale students to conditions of homelessness. No one thinks that the residents of the real Tent City spend the night listening to music and making s’mores. Trust me, YHHAP has done its homework. The event’s intent is not to provide experiential education but rather to demonstrate solidarity. Every year at Sleepout, the Yale community comes together to show that it does in fact understand the realities of homelessness and that it is dedicated to supporting those in need. We celebrate our shared commitment and our collective contributions to the cause.

Indeed, the “gaps” between us and the homeless are not so large as Mr. Downie would have us believe. In many cases, all that separates us is a little bad luck. Hence, there won’t be a day when “we can walk out onto an empty Green at night and realize our Sleepouts have done their job.” We will always have neighbors who face hard times. What we must remember is that they all deserve to be considered as equals, regardless of whether they live just outside our ivy-covered walls or halfway around the world.

Rory Marsh

Oct. 19

The writer is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College.

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