Poverty is not a costume.

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Beggars are the latest fashion trend and you would know that had you attended, or seen photos of, the University of Auckland’s Commerce Student Association (AUCSA) stein last Tuesday titled: ‘Beggars and Ballers.’

With nearly 24,000 homeless in Auckland and a further 45 million under the poverty line around the globe, it should not take a genius, let alone a tertiary student attending New Zealand’s best business school, to understand why this party theme might have been inappropriate and insensitive. As Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) Coordinator, Ricardo Menendez March put it, “AUCSA’s backward and classist stein is symptomatic of years of welfare reform by successive governments, aimed at portraying poor people as lazy and the source of unemployment. Great parties don't have to come at the expense of our most vulnerable and already marginalised.”

Seeing the photos released after, it’s mind blowing that not once during the planning, advertising, or executing of this event did even ONE person on the AUCSA executive committee think they might be crossing a line by organising a night surrounding the theme of poverty. An excerpt from their Facebook page advertising the event even reads, “if you want to live that beggar lifestyle chuck on some rags.” Poverty is not a costume. An employee from the Ministry of Health quotes, “we are dealing day in and day out with a huge volume of issues due to homelessness in New Zealand and working really hard to come up with solutions and to see AUCSA create a stein about this is appalling.”

Poverty is not just living in rags. Poverty is sleeping on the streets. Poverty is living alone in fear and without food for days. Poverty is 22,000 children dying every day due to homelessness and lack of food and water. This is common knowledge for all of us and at this stage it’s not about being politically correct, it’s about having at least over a teaspoon of sympathy, if not empathy, for people that are living without the privilege of a roof over their head and proper meal to eat.


Sign the petition to show AUCSA that you are standing up for what is right and will no longer allow for such events to be shoved under the rug without consequences. 

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