Urban Plunge



Urban Plunge Frequently Asked Questions

We answer the following questions about the goals and outcomes of Urban Plunge regularly. If you’d like more information on Urban Plunge, please contact Owen Sallee, Coordinator for Global and Urban Involvement, at (206) 281-2932 or owen@spu.edu.
Urban Plunge
What is the purpose or goal of Urban Plunge?

Who are Urban Plunge’s partners?

Are students using up resources, thereby depriving the homeless community of the things that they need to survive?

Are students trying to fool people into thinking they are homeless? Isn’t this dishonest?

People can’t “know what it’s like to be homeless” after five days on the streets.


What is the purpose or goal of Urban Plunge?

The goal of Urban Plunge is to give students a personal experience that will equip them to engage the homeless population with empathy and compassion. We hope that students will leave with a better understanding of homelessness and its myriad of causal factors. We encourage students to enter the experience humbly; students are not seeking an “extreme experience” or on a mission to “save the homeless”; rather, they seek to understand another individual’s perspective. It is also our hope that students will have the knowledge and resources to get involved and serve in our local community. [Top]

Who are Urban Plunge’s partners?

A number of community organizations dedicated to serving the homeless community support the Urban Plunge program by hosting site visit presentations during the five-day experience. Each day, Urban Plunge students visit an organization to learn about the organization’s work, philosophy and client population. Frequently, students choose to volunteer with these organizations after Urban Plunge, having developed a new appreciation for the organization’s work. [Top]


Are students using up resources, thereby depriving the homeless community of the things that they need to survive?


Students spend the night in a local church, leaving much-needed beds available for those who are genuinely homeless. Students are asked to keep track of where they eat; SPU will reimburse agencies for meals eaten by program participants during Urban Plunge. [Top]


Are students trying to fool people into thinking they are homeless?


Students are instructed to be honest and up-front with those they come in contact with during Urban Plunge. Students are instructed to immediately reveal their identities to anyone they begin to converse with or form a relationship with. [Top]

People can’t “know what it’s like to be homeless” after five days on the streets.


We stress at the end of plunge that participants do not have it "figured out" and we have no right to say, “I lived on the street for 5 days; I know what it's like!". Urban Plunge is a small glimpse of what certain aspects of homelessness are like, for instance, having no money, having to find your own food, and being ignored by mainstream society. The goal of Urban Plunge is empathy, compassion, and a desire to serve, not an “extreme experience.” Students will not know what it’s like to be homeless, but they will have a better understanding of what this experience is like for others. [Top]



Urban Plunge VideoSee a video (via iTunes) of Winter, 2008 Urban Plunge.

Spring, 2009 Urban Plungers shared their reflections in this video.

Spring 2009 Urban Plunge made the news in this Seattle Times article.



Find out what SPU students are saying about their time on the December 2008 Urban Plunge.