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The Carletonian

Haiti Justice Alliance: Date an Ole, coming soon

<te an Ole” is back.

On sixth weekend, Carleton students will have the chance to search for love or friendship, while contributing to a good cause, as part of the annual event, which sets Carls and Oles up on blind dates.

 Carleton’s Haiti Justice Alliance (HJA) has organized the event, along with several other campus programs and visiting lectures. HJA works with the larger Northfield community to generate awareness and aid for Haiti.

“There is a large group of students at Carleton who are interested in social justice, advocacy, and human rights issues, and although they may not necessarily be deeply invested in Haiti, they care about these issues,” said Leah Eby ’13, HJA co-leader.

Carleton’s HJA partners with HJA St. Olaf and the HJA of Northfield to work with and contribute to the efforts of organizations that are based in Haiti, such as the What If? Foundation, the Society of Providence United for the Economic Development of Pétion-Ville (SOPUDEP) School, and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH).

 “I think it’s really exciting that we have student chapters,” said Brian Concannon, Director and head lawyer of IJDH. “It is absolutely vital to have local organizing.”

Last week, Concannon spoke in the Gould Library Athenaeum and Great Hall, at a dinner with traditional Haitian food provided by St. Olaf students. The dinner included students from both schools and Northfield community members.  

Concannon addressed advocacy efforts that are specific to Haiti, as well as broader principles of civic engagement, including the goals of being sustainable and addressing root causes.  

Speaking about future careers in social justice, he said, “You can put a basic liberal arts experience to use for somewhere a long way off.”

The dinner presentation also featured live music and a slideshow.  “Some of this can get so heavy, but we want to leave people with the message of making a difference,” said Paul Miller, Director of HJA of Northfield.

Past HJA fundraising efforts at Carleton have included collaborations with St. Olaf for the annual Tie-Dye for Haiti and Date an Ole events. HJA has also brought several speakers to Carleton’s campus, including the Medical Director for Partners in Health, the founder and Director of the SOPUDEP School in Port-au-Prince, and the What If? Foundation’s Program Liaison in Haiti.

“Immediately after the earthquake [in January 2010] our efforts were focused mainly on fundraising for relief efforts, but since then we’ve really transformed into an advocacy and justice organization…to work for education, advocacy, and sustainable change at a grassroots level in Haiti.” said Eby.

The next HJA event at Carleton will be Date an Ole.  Interested Carleton and St. Olaf students will sign up for blind dates, meet in Northfield’s Bridge Square on Friday, May 4, and dine at participating restaurants that will donate a percentage of their proceeds to the SOPUDEP School in Haiti.  

“Last year we had over five hundred people show up in Bridge Square and it was a hugely successful night, so we’re hoping that this year will be even better,” said Eby.

A future goal of HJA Carleton is increased collaboration with HJA of Northfield and St. Olaf to ensure that efforts to educate Carleton students about Haiti remain sustainable for the years to come.  

“We welcome anyone who wants to join!” said Eby.

Register for Date an Ole at by April 23.  Email [email protected] to be added to the HJA listserv.  

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