Editorial, Opinion

EDIT: Selfish charity

HoboJacket is a project purportedly run by Massachusetts Institute of Technology students who were interested in spreading their animosity for their rival school, California Institute of Technology, according to an article in The Boston Magazine on Monday.

“Winters are cold. You’d like to see hobos clad in your rival school’s jackets,” the HoboJacket website states.

The project allows students to purchase jackets that boast the logo of their rival schools that will then be donated to the homeless, in order to keep them warm while embarrassing the rival school.

It is meant as a ticklingly offensive and edgy way to incentivize donations to the homeless.

It is “the politically incorrect but right thing to do,” HoboJacket reads.

The site is funny at first and seemingly charitable. But it is also insensitive. HoboJacket might be taking things too far because, while it does provide clothing for the homeless, it also uses them as figures of derision. Note the disparity of turning underprivileged and homeless individuals who find themselves on hard times into objects to further your privileged private school rivalries.

While, admittedly, it would be fun to spoil the reputation of a Boston College degree, twisting the philanthropic cause of helping others in need to your own superficial advantage is warped. The moral of the matter is that it is wrong to make a homeless individual the pawn to snobbish rivalries and elitism.

It is wrong because you should not use people and wrong because you should not make fun of them. We learned that in preschool, but if the founders of the project are who they claim to be, it would seem as though these MIT kids spent so much time on mathematics that they forgot.

Rivalries are fun. They make a college experience collegiate by unifying students for their own cause and against another’s. But there are better ways to assert a rivalry — MIT has yet to find a way to make it snow on Caltech’s campus and thereby get even with their California rival’s palm tree prank back in 2005. And there are other ways to be genuinely kind, such as giving a homeless person a coat that is not emblazoned with your rival school’s mascot.

True, school rivalry motivates a person to donate to charity — this is a good thing. But charitable actions are hardly charitable when attached to selfish motives.

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