Gonzaga’s Peace Club attended a DC Council Hearing this week to advocate on behalf of homeless individuals who have been living in tent communities near campus.
The club became involved in the issue in early January, after reading a Washington Post article
about a pending eviction of a tent community two blocks from the school. After learning about the community, they visited and listened to residents and began researching the issues at play. The club collected 352 signatures for a petition and wrote an article for the school paper about the encampments.
On March 5, Peace Club president Henry Sullivan ’20 and club member Andrew Gans '20 testified at a hearing of the DC Committee on Health. They were joined by eight fellow club members: Jack Morelli ‘20, Paul Ruff ‘20, Ben Campion ‘20, Tanner Baldwin ‘20, Justin Hill ‘20, Conor Shaheen ‘21, Michael LesStrang ‘22, and Peter Mildrew ‘22.
Henry concluded his remarks at the hearing by saying: “We have been instilled at Gonzaga with a mandate to protect those on the margins of society and that is why we came today. . .This issue is complex and does not have simple answers. One thing is for certain: these women and men living on K, L, and M Streets are not litter to be cleaned up. What we need to clean up is the injustice of homelessness.”
Andrew Gans then presented four specific action items to the committee, including offering more housing vouchers, providing waste management for the tent communities, expanding mental health services, and ceasing the eviction of homeless tent communities.
“We are going to ask the Deputy Mayor about some of the issues that you all raised," said former DC mayor and Chairman of the Committee on Health Vincent Gray. "I appreciate your testimony today.” He also mentioned growing up near Gonzaga and walking by Eye Street to get to school.
Danielle Flood, Assistant Director of Campus Ministry, accompanied the students to the hearing. “We talk about the Jesuit ideal of ‘a faith that does justice,’ and to see our students put this into action with such conviction was extraordinary,” she says. “They took their responsibility as neighbors to those living in the encampments seriously, and it was special to watch. “