One night a year, dozens of cardboard boxes suddenly appear on the campus green. While at first sight, they may seem to be a form of misplaced garbage, the boxes actually serve as a dormitory for the night.
Starting at 9 p.m. and lasting for 12 hours, Tau Kappa Epsilon brothers will live in their cardboard boxes to raise awareness and funding to combat homelessness.
This year, Tau Kappa Epsilon Homeless will begin at 9 p.m. on April 17 on the lower green. The fraternity has planned several events to go along with their cardboard forts, including setting up several games to further draw interest.
This year, there will also be a contest to see who from the public can build the best cardboard fort of their own. The winner of the contest will receive a pair of lift tickets or waterpark passes to Camelback Mountain Resort. As always, the organization will also accept donations to help their cause.
Kareem Awad has been a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity since the spring of 2016. Awad is one of the oldest members in the fraternity and recalls brothers sharing stories of the event from several years before he was a member.
Awad sees the event as a springtime staple. “This is one of my favorite events of the spring semester,” he said. “Right when the weather is getting warm, building the cardboard boxes not only reminds you of spring, but also of the struggles people who are homeless go through, finding a place to sleep not only in the spring months, but also in the harsh winter.”
As Awad enters his fourth Tau Kappa Epsilon Homeless event, his message regarding the seasons cannot be forgotten. While the brothers can comfortably spend 12 hours in their forts during the spring, the reality of being homeless during the winter months is much harder to endure.
According to a 2018 study from Monarch Housing Associates, there were 9,303 homeless people in New Jersey—a 9% increase from the previous year’s study. The same study estimated that Newark alone has about 2,000 homeless individuals, 320 of whom are considered ‘unsheltered’.
Homelessness in Essex County is also a growing issue. In 2012, Monarch Housing Associates found there were 1,504 homeless people. In 2018, that number was 2,229.
By hosting this event and raising money, Tau Kappa Epsilon aims to shed light on the matter and assist in one day bringing the number of homeless people down to zero.
Those interested in participating in the contest or donating to the cause, should feel free to approach any Tau Kappa Epsilon brother at the lower green on the night of April 17.