Students sleep in a van to raise awareness of missing people
Augustana group didn't turn on the heater
By Steve Young
Comment Print Email PUBLISHED: October 25, 2007
The nights were cold, the sleeping quarters cramped, but the cause was important for a handful of Augustana College students.
That's why at least four members of the school's Union Board of Governors committee lived and slept in a Ford Windstar minivan outside Augustana College's Morrison Commons for a little more than a week - to raise awareness about missing persons.
They called the van home until the band Clementine performed in the Morrison Common's Back Alley on Wednesday night.
The students climbed into the van every night for good between 8 and 10 p.m. They did not run the heater, so sleeping required a few extra blankets and coats.
And they were up every morning with the sunrise.
"Our project is to do something where people who see this unorthodox van in the middle of the campus have to pause and say, 'What's going on here?'" said A.J. Davidson, a senior from Canby, Minn.
Placards on the side of the van advertised the fact that the FBI has active cases on 50,930 missing adults across the country. The students also lined the sidewalks leading to Morrison Commons with informational signs about missing persons.
But their big goal was to promote Wednesday night's performance by Clementine.
The band is part of the Squeaky Wheel Tour, which is bringing hundreds of artists together for 19 days of events spanning America and a dozen countries to try to gain attention for the missing.
One of Clementine's members, Jannel Rap, has a personal connection to the issue. Her sister, Gina Bos, went missing on Oct. 17, 2000, after playing her guitar and singing at an open-mic night at a pub in Lincoln, Neb.
Bos, 40, left the pub late and never made it home. Police found her car, with the trunk open and her guitar inside, in front of the pub. She's been missing ever since.
Now Rap and her sister, Tammy Smith of Garretson, are touring the country with Rap's band on the Squeaky Wheel tour, so named because of the difficulties the family has encountered in publicizing their sister's disappearance.
Augustana's Union Board of Governors promoted Wednesday night's performance, in part to honor Augustana graduate Jon Francis, a Stillwater, Minn., native who went missing for a year in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho before his remains were found this past July.
Francis' family would not give up until his remains were found. And that's an important part of what Rap and her band are doing, said Jackie Strey, an Augustana senior and a member of the board of governors.
"Most abducted and missing cases go cold because people quit caring about them," Strey said. "To keep that information coming out, you need to be a squeaky wheel and keep the information out there about that person."
Reach reporter Steve Young at 331-2306.http://www.argusleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/a.../710250345/1001