Alice Mishkin went without caffeine yesterday for the first time in a while. Instead of buying her daily latte, she chose to give $3 to help protect displaced Sudanese civilians in Darfur.
Mishkin, an LSA senior, was participating in Darfur Fast, a campaign organized by the national anti-genocide student organization STAND. The event encouraged students to give up one luxury item from their daily lives and donate that money to help victims of the Darfur conflict.
Members of the University’s chapter of STAND – including Mishkin – sold $5 buttons advertising the event to students in Angell Hall on Monday and Tuesday.
Emily Lardner, an LSA sophomore and member of STAND, said the profits would be donated directly to protect civilians displaced by the conflict.
STAND raised about $500 from button sales and donations, according to the group. The money will go to the Genocide Intervention Network’s Civilian Protection Program. The program works with the United Nations and the African Union to protect people in refugee camps.
STAND members chose to participate in order to combine efforts to educate students and encourage activism on the Darfur issue, Lardner said.
“This really involves the person,” she said. “They don’t just learn something, they do something. The fast forces people to realize how much they have and how much we take the ability to walk to class without being raped or tortured for granted.”
LSA freshman Joe Pieroni – one of 255 students signed up to attend the event on Facebook.com – said he was also planning on buying a button instead of coffee.
“If you only spend $3, then you could protect a woman in Darfur for a day – that’s pretty ridiculous,” Pieroni said. “It would hang on my conscience to not donate the $3. It would have no real effect on my life, but it would really help someone else.”
Despite his intentions, Pieroni missed the button sale and was unable to donate the $3.
Pieroni wasn’t alone in missing the donation. A few STAND members admitted that they didn’t sacrifice any money or goods, but they said they sacrificed their time.
LSA senior Catrina Armendariz said she also wasn’t able to donate yesterday. “I had a classmate who was asking for donations, but I couldn’t give anything,” she said. “I’m broke.”
Several other students also said they hadn’t heard about the event but would have been interested in donating. When presented with a website to donate, however, the students appeared less than enthused.
More than 800 student groups across the world participated in Darfur Fast. According to Sean Redding, a sophomore at George Washington University and communications coordinator for the national STAND organization said that with 300 universities participating last year, the group raised $150,000.
“We’ve proven in the past and we will prove today that small donations from individuals make a big difference on the ground,” Redding said.