As the Gulf Coast struggles to rebuild, College students have begun to look for ways they can help. Led by the Black Student Union (BSU), Student Government Association (SGA) and Student Finance Board (SFB), the campus community is launching a variety of drives to help the ravaged region.
SGA will serve as the liaison between students and the administration, coordinating relief efforts. According to SGA Executive President Annelise Catanzaro, College President R. Barbara Gitenstein’s office requested that student efforts focus on monetary donations. The request came because the damaged infrastructure in the region would make relief supplies hard to get to the victims who need them the most.
SGA also organized a memorial service for the victims of Katrina by combining it with the College’s annual Sept. 11 memorial. Classes were cancelled between 9:30 and 10:00 Monday morning to allow students to attend the service on the steps of Loser Hall.
SFB will create and administer a fund for hurricane relief. Organizations with money to contribute to the hurricane relief fund can deposit the money with the SFB accountants, who will then see that the money is distributed to relief organizations. Julia Pratt, SFB executive director, said SFB would donate funding for up to 6,500 photocopies to publicize relief efforts and events. Six different committees have been formed to organize student relief efforts.
The main push for monetary donations will be led by SGA, Lambda Sigma Upsilon, Lambda Theta Phi and Delta Phi Epsilon. This committee will create and distribute red buckets across campus for people to place money in.
Some students questioned whether students would have money to give, either because of tight budgets or already having given through other sources.
“It’s going to be hard to keep giving,” Lindsay Rogers, junior English major, said. A “welcome committee” headed by BSU, Uni?n Latina and the College Union Board, will work to bring students displaced by Katrina into the College community. While there were five such students on campus as of Sept. 9, the College continued to accept transfer students up until Monday.
“We want them to feel comfortable and let them know what services are available,” Brittany Horne, BSU president, said.
An item donation committee, led by Phi Beta Sigma and Zeta Phi Beta, will collect needed items like clothing, food and water, while a Human Rights committee led by BSU’s Shannon McCray will write letters to the media to combat what it sees as a distorted view of race and class in media coverage.
A blood drive committee is being organized by Tom Sales, Catholic Campus Ministries president. The T.I.A.R.A. group, an interest group for the sorority Mu Sigma Upsilon, will lead a publicity committee to promote relief events on campus.
According to Tim Asher, associate director of Campus Activities, the department of Athletics also joined the relief effort. It will dedicate its annual 5k run/walk to raising funds for hurricane survivors. Typically, the run is used to raise funds for local charities. Catanzaro said she hopes organizations will support the run by challenging each other to see who can get the most members to participate or raise the most money.
Still, some students feel the committees represent too much talk and too little action, and focus too much on organizations rather than individuals.
“We want the campus to be involved, not just the organizations,” Cheonette Petion, junior accounting major, said.
Bejamin Akuma, BSU senior vice president of Organizational Development, said the relief effort is a way to break down barriers between organizations.
“We can come together as a college community,” he said.