This is more than just another living arrangement.
It’s a student organization, a community service project and a new tradition for West Virginia University. It’s Tent City, and it’s officially a Homecoming Week event.
This year, a student organization called Tent City Committee is advocating camping on the Mountainlair Green to support the Mountaineers. This year takes things one step further, however, with an added community service component.
"Our minimum fundraising goal is to raise $2,500 for Empty Bowls," said Tommy Skinner, the first camper of Tent City 2014 and a current MBA and MSIR student.
"It’s something that we lacked in the past," he said. "We figured with that many people there, it would be very easy to make a difference."
Tent City Committee will sell T-shirts with two-thirds of the profits going to Empty Bowls, an international grassroots campaign to fight and end hunger. The other third will go toward putting on the camp-out event on campus.
"We just recognized a large need within that organization, and they have a history in Morgantown and the county with helping a ton of people," Skinner said. "We figured it would definitely be a good organization to be involved with."
Local businesses are also involved by donating a chosen amount per tent setup. For example, a business can give a donation of $10 for their tent site.
"It’s nice to bring in the community and let them know we’re here for the community as well as to get an education," said Brittany Brown, a senior criminology student and another founding member of Tent City 2014. "We want to send a better message of the student body, especially after the riots (last year). That wasn’t the first thing in mind, but it was definitely better to bring the better environment."
Now with a clear plan for 2015, students can continue building and expanding Tent City in the coming years.
"Hopefully, in the years to come, it’ll be a tradition," Brown said. "It’s really cool that we’re one of the first people that started it."
To keep with tradition, the setup will be the same as 2014, just more organized.
"We’re trying to keep it the same as possible to make sure everyone has a good time," Skinner said. "We’re not there to police anybody. We’re there to just have fun."
Some organized events are planned, but Skinner said he just wants participants to let loose and enjoy the week.
"We’re just asking that everyone is respectful of the university and the area," Skinner said. "Rain or shine, we’ll have a good time."
Tent City is concurrent with Homecoming Week. Beginning at 8 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 5, students can pick up a tent number and pitch it on the Green. Tent City Committee asks that everyone be packed up and off the Green by noon on Friday to give full attention to the Homecoming Parade on Oct. 9.
As for rules manning the tent, Tent City Committee is encouraging students to attend class.
"If there’s times no one’s in there, that’s understandable, but someone should be in the tent as much as possible," Skinner said.
The Greek Games scheduled for Homecoming Week will still run as scheduled on the Green.