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The Observer

Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

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Students shack up for Habitat for Humanity

Castles, rocket ships, and even Hogwarts from the famous Harry Potter books were just a few of the cardboard house designs that inspired CWRU students at Habitat for Humanity’s 8 annual Let’s Shack Up event. Habitat’s largest annual philanthropy event took place last Friday and Saturday, Sept. 17 and 18 on Freiberger Field.

The location itself signifies that Let’s Shack Up continues to grow, as up until this year it was held on the much smaller Kelvin Smith Library Oval. However, the move to Freiberger Field was hardly the only change in this year’s edition. Habitat president Thomas Connor, a senior, says he was inspired by the entertainment provided at the CWRU Relay for Life last spring. Connor wanted to give Let’s Shack Up the same type of festive atmosphere this year. Habitat invited student groups like Speakeasy, Dhamakapella, the Juggling Club, and IMPROVment to perform into the early hours of Saturday morning.

Because of the bolstered entertainment options, Connor said the main mission of the event was altered to create a more relaxed environment. In previous years there would mainly be a guest speaker to convey the goal of “gaining a better understanding of not being able to live in good housing,” he explained. But as students began constructing more complex and creative cardboard houses, Let’s Shack Up became more about bonding and raising money for the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. This year’s event raised around $1200, most of which will be donated to the Greater Cleveland chapter.

Connor estimated that about 300 people participated in the shack-building , with around 70 people spending the entire night in their cardboard abodes. The shack building competition was intense, featuring three separate divisions, with the winner of each receiving prizes.

Students from the Cleveland Institute of Art won the general division, claiming prizes of gift cards from local restaurants and retailers and decorated hammers, symbolic of the work Habitat puts into building real houses throughout the year. Alpha Chi Omega sorority won the Greek Life division by building a castle complete with a drawbridge and a moat. Juniper Residential College was responsible for the Hogwarts-themed construction, which put them at the top of the Residential Colleges Division.

Connor said that the three residential colleges sponsored teams, mostly divided by floors of the various freshman dormitories. They also helped pay the entrance fees, which provided a major incentive for freshmen to participate in Let’s Shack Up. Connor speculated that this may have been a main reason for this year’s spike in participation and will definitely be continued in the future.

Though the conditions throughout the night were harsh, the Residence Hall Association donated pizza on Friday night to fuel the creative construction efforts. Those who spent the night on the field also awoke to breakfast catered by Bon Appétit and Einstein Bros, re-energizing students with food, festivities, and good-spirited competition. “The scale of Let’s Shack Up basically multiplied by ten,” said Connor.

Though it is by far the largest of CWRU Habitat’s events, Let’s Shack Up is certainly not the only one. Connor said the next thing to look out for is the Family Weekend Tool Drive, which will take place over Family Weekend in November. Students and any visiting family members can bring used tools, which will then be donated to the Habitat for Humanity Restore.

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