Several University of Maryland student leadership organizations want to reshape a long-standing university final exam tradition to address food insecurity on campus.

This university’s Graduate Student Government, Student Government Association, Residence Hall Association and Student Alumni Leadership Council are asking students to donate non-perishable food items at the Testudo statue in front of McKeldin Library during this university’s final exams week, according to a campuswide email by student leaders on Thursday.

Members from the student organizations will accept donations from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m from Dec. 12 to Dec. 19.

“We think we can really transform the current tradition of leaving offerings to Testudo into something that will benefit a lot of the members of our community,” said Erika Holdren, the RHA president and a junior government and politics major.

About 27 percent of students at this university “lack some level of reliable access to affordable and nutritious food,”, according to the campuswide email.

This reality can hinder student performance and affect mental health during final exams, GSG president Autumn Perkey said, which is why she is asking students to participate in the new initiative.

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For years, students at this university have participated in a tradition where they give offerings, such as coffee, alcohol and school supplies, to the Testudo statue in front of McKeldin Library in hopes of receiving good luck for their exams. But in recent years, students have placed larger items, such as washing machines and couches, outside of the Testudo statue.

These actions have raised concerns for many community members, including Perkey.

“It did get a little out of hand,” Perkey, a government and politics doctoral student, said . “In order for this to be a tradition that we all look back on fondly, we do have to be mindful of what we’re doing with it.”

The non-perishable food donations will go to this university’s Campus Pantry, which offers emergency food to students, faculty and staff members experiencing food insecurity.

Noah Lee, the pantry’s student manager, said the non-perishable food donations, such as canned broth, oil and peanut butter, would help the pantry serve more students in need. The donated items could also build the variety of products in the pantry’s stock, he added.

“There are students who have less, and if you have the time and ability to [donate], we would greatly appreciate it,” Lee, a senior environmental science and technology major said.

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Some students at this university praised the new initiative.

Senior public health science major Sneha Abraham highlighted how the initiative will help bring the campus community together.

“It would be amazing to see students come together to support another cause during finals,” Abraham said.

Sophomore computer engineering major Olivia Adams said she previously offered empty bottles and textbooks to Testudo. The new initiative will prevent students from offering trash and stolen items to the statue, Adams noted.

SGA president Alexandra DeBus, a senior biochemistry major, said the four student organizations that led the effort for the initiative want to use the university tradition’s popularity and transform it into a tradition with a more meaningful impact on campus.

“It’s such an important and meaningful cause to make sure that no Terp is going hungry,” DeBus said. “I want every student to feel supported and uplifted by this initiative.”