If you read the mission statements of any given school or department at the UW, you’ll find several similar phrases and keywords. Public service, health,
leadership, innovation, and support will appear throughout.
Nancy Amidei, senior lecturer in the School of Social Work, pointed out just how precisely these statements align with the decision to invite Tent City 3 (TC3), the longest established homeless encampment in King County, to the UW campus.
“If anyone tells you it wouldn’t be consistent to what the UW is all about, challenge them to look up the mission statement to whatever school they’re enrolled in,” Amidei said.
Amidei and a group of students known as the Tent City Collective want to bring TC3 to the UW campus. Although this is not a new idea, and students have been lobbying for years to host the encampment, Monday night was the first time a tour of proposed locations was given.
Red Square, archery field, Rainier Vista, the law building lawn, and the field in front of the HUB are the collective’s five suggestions. These locations were chosen based on their accessibility to public services, water, and power.
Some have indeed argued the UW campus is not a fit location for a homeless encampment. Former UW president Mark Emmert said back in 2009 hosting TC3 would “complicate the business of
Interim President Ana Mari Cauce has not commented publicly on the proposal.
TC3 relocates every 90 days and is structured like a small city with specific rules and regulations to promote safety and security. TC3 has been hosted by both Seattle University, who in 2005 became the first university to host a homeless encampment, and Seattle Pacific University, whose president has declared his commitment toward integrating homelessness into SPU’s curriculum and continuing to host TC3. SPU most recently hosted TC3 during winter quarter 2015.
Karen Snedker, associate professor of sociology at SPU, who was largely involved in bringing TC3 to her campus, spoke to attendees of the walking tour. She emphasized while it was students who demanded SPU host TC3, it was also students who were uncomfortable with
So she hosted eight educational forums and taught the course, Homelessness in America, prior to TC3’s arrival.
“People were really ready to be neighbors,” Snedker said.
When TC3 completed their 90-day stay Snedker conducted a survey in which 90 percent of student respondents said SPU should host TC3 again.
Rine Hart, a resident of TC3 since 2011, said he, like other residents, keeps his promises and follows the code of conduct assigned.
When Hart first moved here in 2011, he stayed at the United Gospel Mission, a homeless shelter in the Seattle area. He said he’ll never go back.
“They only recognize you as a number,” Hart said. “At tent city you have a name.”
Another TC3 resident, Steve Tierney, who has lived in TC3 less than a week, echoed similar feelings of admiration toward the encampment.
“On the streets you can’t trust anyone,” Tierney said. “Everyone expects something from you. Tent city doesn’t do that. I finally have structure there, somewhere I can actually go at the end of the day.”
A petition on change.org has been circulating the web calling for the UW to host Tent City 3. It had 147 supporters as of Monday evening, not including the several hand-written signatures organizers received during the tour.
Other student groups have advocated to host TC3 in the past, such as the ASUW student senate, the faculty senate, and the graduate and professional student senate, who each passed resolutions in favor of hosting.
Nitasha Sharma, a UW student and Tent City Collective organizer, said they will continue giving educational interviews to teach the community about Tent City 3. Soon, they will begin reaching out to administration.
“This issue is an epidemic in Seattle and we need to address it,” Sharma said.
Reach News Editor Kate Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @KateClarkUW