They came hungry, but some didn’t leave full


Son Nguyen

Students are seated according to the social class given to them for the Sophomore Spotlight Wednesday in the Memorial Student Center.

Students learned about the effects of worldwide hunger at the Sophomore Spotlight event Wednesday in the Memorial Student Center.

The Sophomore Spotlight event was hosted by Marshall’s sociology 375 class and Academic Affairs. The goal of the event was to educate students on global inequality, specifically poverty and hunger.

The event was set up so when students arrived they received a ticket telling them what economic class they were in, whether upper, middle or lower. Students then sat in the section of the room that corresponded to their class.

Students in the upper class sat at tables covered in table cloths, equipped with silverware, dishes and drinking glasses, at the front of the room. The middle class sat at empty tables in the middle of the room. The lower class sat on the floor among balled up newspapers and a makeshift cardboard shed, fenced off from the upper and middle classes, in the back of the room.

Students were then fed a meal that corresponded with their economic class.

This year was the first official Sophomore Spotlight event for the sociology 375 class, taught by associate professor of sociology Kristi Fondren.

Fondren said her class organized the event specifically for sophomore students.

“Because freshman have Week of Welcome and First Year Seminar and all these common experiences, juniors and seniors are in their major working on research and capstones and sophomores, there’s really nothing,” Fondren said.

Fondren said her sociology class did most of the work in organizing the event and said it acts as the service learning part of her course. Fondren said the nice part about service learning classes is the event and the content are integrated into the class.

“It just reinforced what they were learning in class and now they can take that knowledge and teach somebody else,” Fondren said.

There was a similar event to Sophomore Spotlight Fondren’s class organized last year and Fondren said they received great feedback from students at that event.

Fondren said most students who attended last year were positively impacted.

“They did not realize the amount, or how extreme, poverty and hunger were in the world,” Fondren said. “And doing it like this really made it real.”

Sydney Swann-Burnett is a student in Fondren’s sociology class. Swann-Burnett said she took Fondren’s class because she came to the similar event last year and was really impacted by it.

“A lot of people have this understanding of global hunger, but it’s not the right kind of understanding,” Swann-Burnett said. “Because when we think about class and economy and whatnot, we’re thinking about it as more of from the U.S. perspective, so we think of low class being people who can still eat. But as far as the whole world goes, low class is people who make less than $1,000 a year. Like, we don’t see global poverty where we live.”

Social studies secondary education major Garrett May said he went to the Sophomore Spotlight lunch because he wanted to know what the event was about.

May said he was a little disappointed he was put in the lower class, but thought the event was fun and educational.

“I think a lot of people can take away a lot from this,” May said. “It was really good.”

May said the event made a topic that is usually not very fun and made it a little more interesting.

Amanda Gibson can be contacted at [email protected].