Split income

By By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

For the first time in their lives, two close friends put their relationship to the test by changing their income level and becoming separated by class.

Julia Gibson and Marni Brunstetter, who both consider themselves to be middle-class citizens in reality, were split Monday night during the Hunger Banquet.

The event was aimed at educating participants about food distribution problems around the world.

Even though students paid the same $5 or five cans of food to attend, they were each given a class card, which determined what kind of meal and treatment they would receive during the banquet.

Gibson, a freshman psychology major at Westminster College, was boosted up to upper class and given a three-course meal-including dessert-and was invited to sit at fully-decorated tables served by waiters.

On the other hand, Brunstetter, a senior in psychology and social work, was bumped down to lower class and forced to eat rice out of a plastic bowl and sit on the floor with other lower-class participants.

They were not allowed to talk to each other during the meal, and banquet volunteers restrained students from sharing food by regularly “policing” them while they ate.

Brunstetter said it was an eye-opening experience.

“Since we’re, I think, in the same class bracket, I think I was jealous of the treatment she was getting,” Brunstetter said. “I’m not bitter, but I was a little bit jealous.”

Gibson, however, pitied Brunstetter for having to eat less during the event.

“I do feel a little bit bad that I’m getting more food,” Gibson said.

The two had dined at Noodles & Company the night before and said they were not sure if they would have the same friendship now if they were truly in the classes they represented during the banquet.

“I would like to stay friends if we were in different classes,” Brunstetter said. “But, realistically, what are the chances that we would even meet?”

The Hunger Banquet gathered 886 cans of food and about $700, which will be donated to the Utah Food Bank and Oxfam America, an organization committed to creating solutions for poverty and hunger.

The event was also the kickoff for the OrangeBand Initiative, a non-profit student organization dedicated to promoting respectful conversations about social issues.

Students were encouraged to write a global or personal issue on an orange band and carry it with them to promote dialogue with other students, said Rich Whipple, an OrangeBand coordinator.

“Hopefully this will be the perfect vehicle to reach campus about important issues,” he said. “We want to come into contact and keep in contact with what’s important in students’ minds.”

Kim Peterson

Gabi Cabal, given lower-class status at Monday night’s Hunger Banquet, eyes his meager portion of rice in the Saltair Room in the Union. Students attending the Hunger Banquet were separated into groups representing economic classes and fed accordingly.