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BU students stay COOL at conference

Imagine how it would feel to sit hungry, having to steal or trade whatever food is available.

That’s what four Binghamton University students recently faced when they attended the Campus Outreach Opportunity League (COOL) Idealist National Conference’s OxFam Hunger Banquet, which allowed its participants to be exposed to how hunger affects different social classes.

Seniors Sara Blake and Justin Hoch and juniors Everton Chin and Holly Mitchell were sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs to attend the conference with Nancy Paul, director of the Career Development Center. The conference, which was held at the University of Pennsylvania earlier this month, consisted of workshops and activities designed to help students learn about community service, activism, socially responsible careers and ways for making social change in the world.

More than 1,500 students and campus administrators from 400 academic institutions attended the conference. “Students in these workshops were doing really neat things,” Paul said. “But they don’t really think about how to translate that into a career. The facilitators for these workshops really encouraged students to reflect on their skills.”

During the banquet, students were segregated into different social classes — the lower class dining on beans and water as it sat on the floor, the middle class eating rice and beans while sitting on chairs and the upper class dining on bottled water, pasta and salad at tables.

“It was very interesting to see how people reacted,” Mitchell said. “Some people went around stealing food, some gave their food away and then there were some people on the floor protesting for food. It really helped me understand the actions of different people and why they would go around stealing.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08