Carleton students have voted overwhelmingly to add a six-dollar levy to their annual student fees to be given each year to Millennium Promise’s Millennium Villages project. The Millennium Villages project provides people in Africa with the tools they need to overcome poverty, one village at a time.
“We believe that the idea of institutionalizing donations through student levies for the Millennium Villages project is a first,” says Daniel Emberg, spokesperson for Students to End Extreme Poverty (STEEP), the group that orchestrated the initiative at Carleton. Emberg is a second-year human rights student.
Approximately 20 Carleton students are volunteer members of STEEP. To raise awareness and promote their ideas at the university, they collected 2,357 signatures in five days, handed out 4,000 flyers, distributed thousands of e-mails, staffed 30 information booths and engaged key stakeholders.
“This signals an opportunity for Carleton to take global student leadership on the issue of extreme poverty and shows that we believe that we are all equal,” says Emberg. He points out that six diseases will kill eight million people in the developing world in 2009. “And somehow this is not treated as an emergency. Such a situation would never be allowed to happen in North America or Europe.”
STEEP member Natalie Cote, a first-year human rights and political science student says the Carleton group will be working with the Millennium Campus Network, comprised of Harvard, MIT, Brandeis, Tufts, Curry and Northeastern on similar initiatives for Millennium Promise at their respective schools.
“We are trying to set an example,” Cote says, “by making the transition from words to action to show that if leaders won’t live up to their commitments to end poverty, we will.”
In collaboration with the national Make Poverty History (MPH) campaign and MPH at the University of Alberta, STEEP is planning to mobilize student leaders from across the country to pass referendums to support the Millennium Villages project as part of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty in October. Emberg says groups from the University of Alberta, Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia Okanagan have already made a commitment for next year.
Millennium Villages Project
The Millennium Villages Project is a partnership between the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Millennium Promise and the United Nations Development Programme. The Millennium Villages are a proof of concept initiative to demonstrate that the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved in even the poorest and most remote rural communities in Africa by combining the best scientific and local knowledge to chart a course for ground-level, community-based support for agriculture, health, education, infrastructure and business development.
For more information:
613-520-2600, ext. 8705