Rice Students and Staff Attend Annual COTS Walk Against Homelessness


39 Rice students plus faculty gathered in Battery Park on May 7, 2023 (Photo/Gretchen Fricke-Langan)

Moorea Lambert, Arts Editor

On Sunday, May 7, 39 Rice students and faculty members along with hundreds of other volunteers gathered at Battery Park to participate in the 34th annual COTS Walk. COTS (Committee on Temporary Shelter) hosts the event in order to spread awareness of the challenges people without homes face on a daily basis, as well as to fundraise for the organization. So far this year, over $197,000 was raised as part of the walk alone. Of that sum, the Rice Team was responsible for nearly $3,500. ​​

Students arrived in Burlington eager to learn.

“I’m here to have a good time with all of our friends, but also to support the cause and for the education that it’s going to bring us,” junior Colin Banks said.

“I want to learn more about the organization,” freshman Josie Chauvin concurred.

Before COVID, the event was mandatory for all freshmen. Since the pandemic, the requirement was dropped.

Mr. Fitzgerald was a teacher at Rice when the event was compulsory. While beneficial, Fitzgerald believes that requiring the freshman to partake in the walk made it lose some of its value as community service.

“I think that it certainly provided a shared experience for incoming freshmen,” Fitzgerald said. “It definitely helped students understand the community service requirement in a more tangible way. At the same time, I think that mandated service inherently loses some of its value.”

Matthew Bergeron, who was a freshman at the time the walk was required, felt it was beneficial.

“We kind of learned about the whole process of community service… it was fun,” said Bergeron.

Reid Brown remembered participating in the walk when she was a student at Rice years ago. Having just returned as a teacher, Ms. Brown saw an opportunity to expand on her high school involvement.

“I remember it being a great experience,” said Brown. “When I heard that we were trying to bring it back and make a team again, I was really excited at the opportunity to participate. I hope that the kids see the homelessness crisis in Burlington and understand that this is a really good experience and a really great opportunity for us to see our community outside of Rice.”

Based on the enthusiasm of the Rice participants, her goal seemed to be realized. Students stopped at stations along the 3.5 mile route to read posted information about the services COTS provides. One such student was Caden Fisher, who attended the walk despite a broken ankle.

“I’m out here supporting my local community,” said the senior. “It feels good.”