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February 16, 2000

VITERBO HOMELESSNESS AWARENESS SLEEP OUT SET FOR FEB.  21

LA CROSSE, Wis--Refrigerator boxes, blankets, and a wood fire.  That’s what students from Tom Thibodeau’s class will use to stay warm this Monday, Feb. 21 as 15 students plan a sleep out in the cold to demonstrate solidarity with people who are homeless.

Despite the discomfort, these students, who are part of a class studying homelessness, will not be far from familiar surroundings as the sleep out is planned for Assisi Courtyard on the Viterbo campus.

"We know that we cannot replicate homelessness and we do not want to," said Thibodeau, a member of the religious studies faculty.  "The circumstances in which people find themselves homeless are much too complex for the students to authentically experience but that doesn’t stop us from showing support and empathy and more importantly, attempting to put a human face to this very serious problem."

The course, which is offered for joint credit by the sociology and religious studies departments, has been in existence for 13 years.  The sleep out is a prelude to another, more intense experience during spring break—a trip to the homeless shelters of Omaha, Neb. and Minneapolis, Minn.

Students will begin setting up for the night at approximately 5:30 p.m. in the Assisi Courtyard.

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