Upholding More than Tradition: UF Sleep Out for the Homeless Event 2007

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 16, 2007 at 10:25 p.m.

Manly deeds, scholarship, and love for all mankind. These are some of the pillars that characterize the historic fraternity of Alpha Phi Alpha Inc, which celebrate 100 years of existence since 1906. The Theta Sigma chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, established in 1973, continues to exercise these principles on the campus of UF through community service.

Part of the celebration included a homeless drive on UF’s Turlington Plaza, Sunday, Jan. 14. The purpose of the event was to address the homeless issue in Gainesville as well as honor one of the fraternity’s most distinguished members, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Not only did Dr. King’s teachings affect the racial atmosphere in America, but his vision also influenced the principles by which Alpha Phi Alpha operates even to this day. “I think it’s important to remember Dr. King’s visions, because it was a vision that we can all relate to, it’s a vision that we can all gain from, learn from and share with others,” says fraternity member, Will Atkins.

The homeless crisis in Gainesville is extremely serious. Everyday more students become aware of how severe the situation has become. “I think it’s a tragedy, says Junior Christian Edwards, [that Gainesville is the fifth poorest city in Florida] because if you think about it, if this university wasn’t here this would be the poorest city in Florida.”

Although many students came to UF to get an education, they are also gaining an education on real-life issues. “Sometimes I feel like I’m taking away from the city," says UF student Rodney Gammons, "because I came here to get my degree and leave instead of [giving back to] the community, but at the same time, I don’t know every homeless persons situation...they could’ve had the same opportunity just like me [yet] they [wound] up on the street.” Nowadays it is sometimes difficult not to take education in America for granted because of the work effort of Dr. King and others, which has provided students with many opportunities, especially in the African-American community. However, we cannot criticize the homeless without fully understanding their needs. “That makes me realize that it could happen to anybody so you should take any opportunity you get and run with it,” says Gammons. Getting involved in the community is something that Dr. King strongly advocated during his life. When asked why she attended the event, first year Autavia Bell stated, “It was a great opportunity because often…I don’t have time to do community service but this is a way to give back by donating clothes, food, and money…” Aside from the cause, students were also concerned that the significance of Dr. King’s message is beginning to fade. “I think people take it for granted…it was about being united regardless of color or creed. Now you see minorities separating themselves from [other groups] and abiding more with each other instead of white men holding black men’s hands[or] black men holding white men’s hands,” states Bell. However, added Atkins, “…this is our opportunity to help students to become more aware of the homeless issue not only in Alachua County but also throughout the United States. It’s something that we’ve done for the past few years, and we hope to make it a bigger and better event to raise more awareness and to give back to the homeless through St. Francis House.” Some people may think that a celebration such as this is not necessary, however, fraternity member Alex Hanse says “…we always need it just because we tend to forget…so I think we need events like this to bring us together and remind us that we’re not different from each other and that we have one common goal.”
View the UF Homeless Event 2007 photo album

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