After Poverty Project launch, students unclear about goals

WCU's Poverty Project is underway with mixed signs of success.

The second event of WCU’s Poverty Project, a movie entitled “Inside Job”, was held at the end of September in the UC Theater, yielding less than 20 people and only a handful of those being students.

The movie focuses on the economic crisis of 2008 and how key players on Wall Street bargained, made corrupt deals and took risks to land the economy where it is today. “Inside Job” helped to show how the economic crisis put a strain not only on the American economy but also the global economy.

The economic crisis of 2008 brought unemployment, the closing of thousands of business and consequently an epidemic of poverty that has not been seen in the United States in the past few decades.

Dan Bromberg, Assistant Professor from the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs explained that the film asks more questions than it gives answers, but he maintained that all of us have a role in deciding the future.

“It is important for us to find our role in the problem and in the solution,” stated Bromberg, although he never mentioned specifics.

In the meantime, there are still many questions surrounding the Poverty Project.

The Poverty Project, which launched at WCU Sept. 7, brought hundreds of students into the Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center. A month later it is unclear as to what the goals and purposes of the project are. According to the WCU Poverty Project’s website, the project is a “year of engaged teaching, learning, service, and creative and scholarly opportunities centered on poverty, both globally and locally.” But are students at Western Carolina receptive to the goals of the project?

Sophomore, Megan Carlson, who was at the launch of the WCU’s Poverty Project knows one of mentioned goals of the Global Poverty Project.

“They are trying to cut global poverty in half. They were able to succeed in doing it the past ten years and are striving to do the same this year,” said Carlson.

Although some students like Carlson are aware of the Poverty Project, whether it is via the posters hanging from classroom walls or chalk writings on the sidewalks, the majority of students are completely unaware of it.

When asked if he had heard of the Poverty Project, freshman John Bentley simply said, “No,” and looked confused.

The impact of the Global Poverty Project and how it fits into Western is unclear when talking to students.

Jennifer Cooper, the Interim Director of Service Learning explained that although this project could fit anywhere in the world, it can still be related to Western.

“The Global Poverty Project initiative is relative to different places around the world, but we’re in a region where there is a high poverty rate and effects the community around us,” said Cooper. “We’re trying to bring awareness to students.”

Cooper also mentioned that there was “great student involvement” and that students were coming out to highly successful events. However, the events that Cooper was talking about did not specifically mention the Poverty Project.

“We’ve had the Below the Line campaign which helps bring food to those who need it. We’ve had the End of Polio campaign and also the Invisible Children film,” said Cooper.

As WCU’s Poverty Project moves forward in the coming months and more poverty project events are held, we can see if students care about the success of the project and become more aware of its goals.

More events can be found at WCU’s Poverty Project’s Facebook page. Ongoing events include the Soles for Shoes drive.