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Bemidji State Fights Against Poverty


Tricia Tuntland | Staff Writer | 10-29-12

One campus, one challenge at a time and a burning passion to raise awareness of poverty and disease is all Bemidji State University junior Rachel Munson needed to make BSU a part of the ONE Campus Challenge.

ONE Campus Challenge, according to www.campus.one.org, “is an intercollegiate competition designed to mobilize students in the fight against extreme poverty and preventable diseases.”

The ONE campaign, started by Bono and several other campaigners, is an advocacy organization that helps not only to raise public awareness, but also to pressure political leaders to support programs and policies that support a defence against poverty and disease.

“It is our first year this year,” said Munson, who is co-president of BSU’s ONE Campus Challenge. “We compete with 200 schools across the nation in these challenges ONE presents to us.”

The program is set up to have a new challenge every three weeks. Each challenge allows a campus to gain points toward the challenge prize and ultimately the Grand Prize at the end of the spring semester.

“Our first challenge was to register voters and to get as much of the campus involved as much as possible,” Munson said. “Then we also put a lot of pressure on [political] candidates to see what they are going to do to end poverty if elected.”

With the first competition completed, BSU is ranked fifth out of 100..

Although ONE Campus focuses primarily on poverty in Africa, it does encourage its campus leaders and organization members to raise awareness of local poverty as well.

“We are going to be putting a lot of focus on the sweet potato project in Africa, which is a part of our second challenge, 28 Days to THRIVE,” said Munson, “but we are going to be doing food drives and a homeless demonstration in the winter because we realize that Bemidji State is located in one of the most impoverished counties.”

Although the student senate still has yet to approve the organization’s revised constitution, BSU was still able to register as a ONE Campus thanks to the approval of BSU President Dr. Richard Hanson.

“My sister and I, which are co-presidents, along with our treasurer, went to speak with President Hanson, Tuesday, September 17 about the ONE Campus Challenge and to get his approval,” Munson said. “He was right on board with us and we got ideal reaction from him.”

Even though BSU’s ONE Campus Challenge is still in its beginning stages, its 31 members hope to achieve one of the top four spots in the nation at the end of this year’s challenges.

“Ultimately we want to win the challenge,” said junior and ONE Campus Challenge secretary, Alli Wall, “but if we can just get the word out that we are here and raise awareness of the issues, that would be a great start for our first year on campus.”

Even after receiving some negativity from those who believe they should focus primarily on the problem internally instead of externally, the group’s positive attitude and confidence that ONE Campus was the right thing to bring to BSU has not been diminished.

“It is a great idea that brings awareness to poverty as an issue that affects not only us here in Bemidji, but also it is a great way to reach out globally to those in need,” Wall said.

More information about about BSU’s new ONE Campus Challenge can be found on their Facebook page at ONEbemidjistateuniversity. “You can search for us on Facebook. If you “like” our page you will receive updates, meeting times and places and be able to watch videos about ONE Campus and all the recent activities taking place,” said Munson. “If you visit the ONECampus.org and find Bemidji State University, you will be able to track our progress and find more ways to get a hold of us.”
Information about the ONE campaign and all they do to help put an end to poverty and preventable diseases as well as ways to get involved with the program are available at www.campus.one.org.