10th Tent State packs up earlier than expected
Tent State University is held once a year at Voorhees Mall on the College Avenue campus as a vehicle for student and community organizations alike to promote their goals and recruit new members.
Members of organizations like the Rutgers University Student Assembly, United States Against Sweatshops and Rutgers United camped out in tents this past week to express student concerns on campus.
Spencer Klein, chair of the RUSA Legislative Affairs committee, said Tent State originally began as a protest against cuts in funding for higher education and has expanded to incorporate other student and community organizations concerned with different issues.
“It has become a broader event for organizations of all varieties to recruit and disseminate their messages,” said Klein, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.
Klein said the legislative tent helps register students to vote or call and write to their legislators.
“The legislative tent is centered around essentially any legislation we want students to contact their legislators about,” he said.
Natalie Sowinski, a RUSA senator at-large, said one of the goals of the United Students Against Sweatshops is to get the University to disaffiliate with the Fair Labor Association.
USAS is scheduled to meet with University President Richard L. McCormick today to find out whether the University will disaffiliate, said Sowinski, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.
Sowinski said companies like Nike, with “notorious track records” for labor violations, are signed onto the FLA, raising concerns that the FLA may be “turning a blind eye to labor violations.”
The University supports both the FLA and the Worker’s Rights Consortium, but USAS hopes to solely support the WRC, she said.
In addition to a variety of organizations, Tent State also featured a number of workshops, like the “Ask a Feminist Panel,” or “Reproductive Rights.”
Marjorie Fine, principal consultant and trainer at The Linchpin Campaign, held a workshop on Wednesday on how to fundraise more effectively.
Fine gave tips on how to be efficient in fundraising money and increasing donations to about 40 students in Tent State’s “Town Hall” in a central long, white tent adjacent to College Avenue.
“Get over the fear and panic of talking about money. … Write a strong letter and tell them you’ll call them, don’t make them call you,” she said. “Put the burden on yourself, not them.”
Fine said students should take a prospective donor out to lunch or coffee to discuss the donation, but she reminded attendees to keep in mind that it is business.
“The purpose of having lunch or coffee with them is to have them go from thinking about donating to being honored to donate,” Fine said. “They might say no, but if you can get those yeses, it can be enough to keep you going.”
Sowinski said Tent State’s turnout was steady throughout the week, with Tuesday seeing an exceptionally high turnout.
“I think the turnout has been pretty strong,” she said. “As far as the nighttime events go, I’ve been pretty pleased.”
Sowinski said there was a combination of about 30 student and community organizations involved with Tent State this year.
Tent State usually spans an entire week, but this year, the Office of Student Life said there will be no outdoor events over the weekend because of last year’s incidents during Rutgersfest.
“They just told us that we have to have everything packed up by noon [today],” Sowinski said.
Sowinski said Tent State had events planned for today before word came down from the administration that they would not be allowed to stay on Voorhees Mall.
“We had [today’s] entire ... lineup of workshops, lectures, and music and entertainment,” she said.
Klein said he felt that canceling outdoor events today was punishing University students for the actions of non-University students, who were mostly involved last April in the Rutgersfest incidents.
“We’re going to keep going,” he said. “We plan on leaving [this] morning because Dean [Timothy] Grimm has decided to cancel the event.”
Sowinski said indoor events are still permitted today, where scheduled bands will play at Van Dyke Hall on the College Avenue campus.