Campus campout to raise awareness about crisis in Darfur

When Danielle Boyd wore a shirt that said “Save Darfur,” someone asked her if “Darfur” was a band.

“Times like those just encourage me to keep doing what I’m doing,” said Boyd, vice president of a student anti-genocide coalition.

Members of the TCU chapter of Students Taking Action Now: Darfur have organized a camp out on Sadler Lawn to confront what they call a “lack of awareness” about the conflict in Darfur, the sophomore education major said.

Students will pitch tents and stay overnight Saturday beginning at 5 p.m. on Sadler Lawn, where they will sign petitions and write letters to members of Congress in support of sending aid to the peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Boyd said.

“We wanted to give people the idea of what it feels like to live outside in a refugee camp,” Boyd said. “But we still had to make it fun to get people to come.”

Chris Cooksie, a student organizer of the event, said this is STAND’s biggest event yet. About 75 people from different student groups on campus have agreed to participate, he said.

“Our hope is that these people will take the message back to their organizations and the awareness will spread from there,” said Cooksie, a senior criminal justice major.

Boyd said the lack of knowledge about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Darfur is too common.

“I would say only about 20 percent of people know what Darfur is, where it is or have ever even heard of it,” she said.

Cooksie said he thinks most students don’t want to know about the conflict because it is an uncomfortable subject.

“Our goal is to get people outside their comfort zones and challenge them to take action,” he said.

To date, more than 400,000 have died and more than 2.5 million have been forced to leave their homes in Darfur, resulting in a major refugee crisis, according to STAND.

The event will have speakers such as state Rep. Lon Burnam, the director of a Holocaust museum, teachers and students, Boyd said.

Those who attend the event will be encouraged to sign a petition and write letters to members of Congress and the president, the group said. Students who set up tents and stay the night will listen to bands expected to play until 2 a.m., Boyd said.

“We just want people to realize that you don’t have to do something big,” said Kasey Waas, a sophomore art history major and an organizer of the event. “People only have to write a letter or sign a petition to make a difference.”

For Your Info

Camp Out for Hope with STAND
When: 5 p.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday
Where: Sadler Lawn