The wealthiest 20 percent of the world is defined as having an annual income of at least $6,300.
Ironically, many of these top 20 percent earners are below the poverty line, with four out of five people in the world earning even less.
On Wednesday evening, the International House hosted UT's first Oxfam America Hunger Banquet.
Taking the form of a simulation, the event attempted to illustrate economic disparity on a global scale.
Upon arrival, students drew cards from a hat to receive their income levels: low, middle and high.
Drawn at random, the cards determined not only what they would be served for dinner, but where they would be sitting.
Low income participants sat on the floor while middle income participants sat in chairs. Tables adorned with cloths were reserved for only those who drew a high income.
Before dinner was served, a speaker for Oxfam America had students volunteer from different income levels. In a demonstration of economic mobility, fortunes of crop failures and farm seizures were read aloud to the volunteers, most of which resulted in the volunteer's shift to a lower income level. Students in low income moved up to middle income in only one case.
Junior Ashley Jakubek, a triple major in global studies, political science and French, gained perspective regarding the relationship between autonomy and poverty.
"Especially when you're put into that situation yourself, you realize you don't have a choice," Jakubek said. "You're just given what you're given, and you have to deal with it."
Once dinner was served, the contrast between income levels became much more stark. Those with a high income received a salad, pasta and garlic bread. Their water was poured for them, and they were given a napkin with their silver wear. Middle income participants formed a line to a service window where they were given water and pre-portioned bowls of rice and beans. At the most meager end of the spectrum, a serving bowl of rice and a pitcher of water were set before the low income group.
Only men and women with high income ate at the same time. Lacking gender equality, men were instructed to get their food before women in the middle and low income groups.
In the discussion following the dinner, sophomore nutrition major Maddie Meneley noted that those with a high-income neglected to give any of their food to either of the lower income groups.
"A more appropriate set up for this room would have been a soundproof glass wall separating the income levels," Meneley said. "This wall would have a closed curtain that prevents each class from seeing the others, but the people in middle and high income levels could choose to open or close the curtain."
Though many students left hungry, a large amount of food remained on the high-income tables, which was donated to KARM Ministries.
"We're hoping students have a better understanding about hunger and about how it really comes down to not being able to eat. Hopefully this inspires them to take action whether here in the local community or internationally," said Leigh Ackerman, graduate assistant at the International House. "Don't let this experience stay here. Take it with you."