Heard at Abington: Disputing stereotypes about homelessness

Abington ASB chess

Penn State Abington students find that people without permanent housing don't fit into a single mold.

Credit: Pamela Brobst

"The homeless: Rethink the term. We are judging who people are based on their lack of residence. Homelessness is like the tip of an iceberg - the majority of it is out of view. We need to think critically about people being treated as less than human."

"There's this notion of meritocracy - people end up on the street because they individually failed in some way, they made bad choices, or a lack of effort. There is often an element of bad luck. And once you cross the divide to homeless, you lose your face."

— Laura A. Orrico studies the marginalized, stereotyped, and vulnerable in America. She is the Mellon Chau Postdoctoral Fellow in Sociology at Pomona College in California. Penn State Abington invited Orrico to participate in programming related to the 2015 Abington Common Read selection, "Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do." The book sheds light on the threats stereotypes pose and lays out a plan for reshaping American identities. The Common Read is assigned reading for almost 600 students and related programming is open to the entire campus community.