Living Poor

North Dakota State hosted a poverty simulation Tuesday, Oct. 2 in the Great Plains Ballroom. The students and faculty were able to get a glimpse of how a family living in poverty is able to navigate their economic issues.

Approximately 70 students and faculty members participated in the poverty simulation. The participants were grouped together in families and role-played the lives of individuals who live in poverty.

The participants were tasked with providing food, shelter and other basic necessities while dealing with different institutions. There were different challenges built into the simulation to make it more realistic.

Tayler Morris, who was one of the facilitators last year, said they simulate a month in poverty in four 15-minute weeks. The students and faculty members have to survive poverty by doing what they were required to do as a family. According to Morris, only one or two families survive.

The families that are put together are based on real families. The resources available and their income are based on average low-income families.

Participants were put into situations that often contribute to families living in poverty, such as being elderly, a single parent or not having a job.

“The point is to simulate what poverty looks like, the chaos, and the means these people have to go through to try to survive a month,” Morris said.

According to Morris, after going through the simulation, participants had a better understanding of what it’s like to be a low-income parent and having to figure how to get your kids to school on time, go to work and at the same time make sure bills such as rent, mortgage and utilities are paid on time.

The simulation facilitator also went around with “luck of the draw” situations for participants. This represented unexpected situations that everyone goes through in life, but because money and time were extra resources and constraints, participants learned they become difficult.

The goal of the poverty simulation is to make participants realize the struggles of living in poverty, such as supporting a family with little money and facing the stresses of everyday life, with the hope that participants will be motivated to be part of the solution to tackling poverty in their community.

Poverty simulations take place twice a year. The next simulation is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019.

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