Paris Bienert: More respect for our neighbors

Newsflash: GW is a city school.

I’ll go out on a limb and say you already knew that. In fact, if you’re like a lot of students on campus, I’ll bet it’s a primary reason you decided to come here.

That’s why I’ve been surprised this year to see such a negative attitude toward homeless people on campus. I often see students crossing the street to avoid a homeless person on the street or ignoring them with hostility.

We have no reason, and no right, to be condescending toward people merely because of their economic status – especially when they seldom affect the average student’s daily life. The most common interaction between the two involves one approaching the other and asking for money. In these situations, students simply have to decide whether or not they want to give, and then continue on with their day.

More often than not, the worst-case scenario when interacting with the homeless is being out a couple bucks – or maybe you carry around a feeling of guilt for a few minutes. Not the end of the world.

The attitude I see just doesn’t make sense. If you want to judge people, judge their actions – not their backgrounds. Of course, if students feel threatened, they shouldn’t hesitate to call police. But our immediate response shouldn’t be one of fear or the belief that campus is less safe because of the homeless.

I’ve heard many students voice complaints about their presence on campus and the supposed inconveniences they pose. But I’d wager that most of those students wouldn’t be able to provide a real problem they’ve personally had with a homeless person.

And yet, for some reason, our student body maintains a condescending disposition toward the homeless.

Rather than ignorantly getting annoyed or angry with the homeless people around us, students should realize how fortunate we are to receive an education that will enable us to hopefully someday solve societal problems such as homelessness.

Homeless people have a right to be in public, just like you and I. It’s time we acted like it.

–The writer, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.

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