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Business students go homeless for charity

By Archives March 4, 2008

With recent temperatures diving as low as -30, one wonders how the homeless are able to survive at night. A few students and professors are about to find out.
Three students and a professor from the John Molson School of Business (JMSB) are willing to spend five consecutive days and nights, from March 9 to 14, on the sidewalk at the corner of Guy and Maisonneuve Avenue without any food, money, showers and other aids. They will be collecting donations during their “stay,” to give to the local youth outreach organization and shelter, “Dans la Rue.”
“The main motivation is to get involved with the community in Montreal,” said Brian Chungwing, a student leader of CASA, the Commerce and Administration Students’ Association. Chungwing will be taking part, along with students Adam Gold, and Josh Redler, while JMSB professor Mahesh Sharma and administrator Karim Boulos will join them for one night each.
“A lot of businesses and a lot of students realize the connections that [entrepreneurship] has with the community,” said Chungwing.
Ginette Morency of the Dans la Rue organization praised the initiative.
“There can never be enough awareness . . . I think that everybody who is aware of that event will spend a little bit of time to understand the situation of homeless kids,” she said.
“We’ve seen more distress than we’ve ever seen before,” said Morency of the youths that frequent the shelter, distress which she attributed to a climate on the street worsened by drugs, lack of positive social relationships and upbringings in foster care.
When asked what they are doing in preparation, Chungwing and Gold said that they would be wearing multiple layers of clothing and huddle inside sleeping bags. As for food, they may only eat what’s donated to them or buy food with donated money.
The three JMSB students will still be attending classes and be writing exams during the five days.
Gold said that beyond bringing attention to the hardships of living on the street and showing community spirit, the initiative is intended to raise awareness for JMSB and Concordia as a whole.
According to him, leaders from three other faculty associations will be joining them for one night each. The university administration is supporting the project by assigning a 24-hour security guard to the students.
“Five Days for the Homeless” is a countrywide event that was originally created in 2005 by the Alberta school of business at the University of Alberta. This year, students from seven universities, including Concordia, are taking part simultaneously with the same guidelines where students spend five days on the street and live like the homeless. The event is intended to raise money and awareness for street youth in their respective towns and cities.