Monday, 29 September 2014

We ARE Problem Solvers: How University Students Can Address Poverty




Rubik’s cubes are a little like poverty: easy to find but not often sought, an icon of the ‘80’s (which saw the last major economic downturn prior to the 2000’s), and a challenge to solve (unless you’re Will Smith… at least as far as the cube is concerned). As university students we often study poverty, look at its effects and try to determine its root causes. We can see it when we search it out, and in some cases might have even experienced it ourselves. If you’ve sat through a sociology class, you’ve likely even engaged in a debate about how to best solve and prevent poverty only to realize just how complicated it the issue really is. As an individual, it can sometimes leave you feeling a little hopeless – but I’d like to suggest that it shouldn’t.

Yes, poverty is a complex issue and it won’t be solved by an individual. And unlike a Rubik’s Cube, you can’t cheat your way to a solution. However, through awareness of the issues, discussion of the issues, debate of the possible solutions, and intentional collective action we might be able to work our way through it. We have to be hopeful about being a part of the solution. We have to believe that we can work together to bring about change and we have to believe that our efforts can have an impact. We do after all attend a school that prides itself on “uplifting the whole people” through education and impact. 

So, how can we do that right now when we, one: likely don’t have as much time as we might like to dedicate to take action, and two: are probably lacking a hefty bank account to help fund existing efforts? I’ll admit that the answer isn’t as active as I’d like, but it is one that will have impact. We need to be aware. That’s it. We need to recognize what poverty is, where it exists, and what systems currently allow it to continue. We also need to recognize that action is possible and that even if we don’t have the time do something right now, there are others who do, and they should be supported in their efforts (even if that support simply comes from paying attention to them rather than paying them with cash). We also have to remember that poverty isn’t always visible, so if we can shed light on it, we can gain a better understanding of it. 

This fall the U of A will continue its long standing tradition of raising awareness about poverty by supporting The United Way. And in addition to the awareness events that it will be hosting (see our list below), the university and those of us who attend it will hopefully be able to have some frank conversations around poverty’s causes, effects, and possible solutions. Let’s donate our attention and our critical thought. Let’s be problem solvers.

United Way Campaign Events:

October 1 – The Loopy Lunch 
Proceeds from lunch sales will go to the United Way. Lunch will be provided by a series of food trucks located around the bus loop.

October 4 – The Turkey Trot (hosted by Recreational Services)

October 24 – Poverty Simulation 

November 5 – Chillin’ For Charity

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