Shantytown spotlights homelessness issue

Aaron Frasier

In an effort to raise awareness about homelessness in America, students from various dorms and organizations went to the South Lawn on Wednesday night to build houses – “shanties” – out of cardboard.

Shantytown has taken place on campus for more than 20 years, said Lisa Clanton, coordinator for Housing and Residence Life. The program is sponsored by Habitat for Humanity and the Residence Hall Association.

Participants were given from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. to build shanties that fit into one of four categories: most spirited, tallest skyscraper, most creative, and which one could physically hold the most people.

Along with the shanty construction, there was live music from artists including Derik Hultquist and the band Noizejoi. The FeelGood Association gave out free grilled cheese sandwiches throughout the night.

Some participants finished early, while others worked until time was up.

Resident assistants Lexington junior Helen Keller and Louisville junior Anne Walsh were finished by about 8:45 p.m.

Keller and Walsh were part of a combined team of Bates-Runner and McLean halls. They made their shanty in the shape of a spider.

The RAs said a resident told them to build an octopus, but through trial and error, it became a spider.

During the competition, a building battle sparked between the team from Pearce-Ford Tower and the combined team from Barnes-Campbell and Bemis Lawrence halls. The two teams were working to win the tallest skyscraper category.

Louisville freshman Zach Darst, representing Barnes, said it took his team more than 30 minutes to construct their tower.

“I would say it is at least 20 feet tall,” he said.

The judges finished their examinations around 10:45 p.m., and the winners were announced.

The Barnes and Bemis team won the tallest skyscraper award.

The team from PFT was able to cram the most people inside of their shanty. They got 54 people inside.

Phi Sigma Pi took home the most creative award, with a shanty that featured flowerbeds, a bird, a light hanging from the ceiling, and a welcome mat.

The most spirited award was given to the team from McCormack Hall, which constructed a shanty in the shape of a Rubik’s Cube, a theme Scottsville junior Craig Lonas elaborated on.

“Homelessness is a puzzle that must be solved, and we can all help to solve it if we will simply work to turn the sides of it,” he said.