Haiti devastation sparks student aid

| News Editors
A burning building sends smoke over the earthquake ravaged Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, Jan. 18, 2010. In response to the disaster, Student Union has launched a fundraising campaign to aid the victims of the earthquake, which has killed at least 70,000 people and affected millions. (Carolyn Cole | Los Angeles Times | MCT)

A burning building sends smoke over the earthquake ravaged Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, Jan. 18, 2010. In response to the disaster, Student Union has launched a fundraising campaign to aid the victims of the earthquake, which has killed at least 70,000 people and affected millions. (Carolyn Cole | Los Angeles Times | MCT)

The images of devastation coming in from Haiti have incited the student body to organize efforts for relief as classes resume one week after  the country’s devastating earthquake.
The earthquake struck Haiti on the afternoon of Jan. 12, leading to the collapse of homes, hospitals and government buildings.

Nations all over the world have reached out to provide humanitarian support to Haiti, and have provided a great deal of funds for the United Nations’ relief efforts.

Similarly, Student Union has spearheaded the student body’s response to Haiti. On the SU Web site, students can donate $5 to the effort. All proceeds will go to Partners in Health. The goal is to get 4,000 students to donate $5 each for a total University donation of $20,000.

Student Union is already donating $500 from money raised by activities such as the poster sale, and will match every $40 given by students with $1. SU is in the process of starting to table, dorm-storm and get donations in person through both campus card and cash.

“We take our things for granted, and I think it’s important to know that we could be anywhere any time and be struck by tragedy,” Student Union President Jeff Nelson
said.

Morgan DeBaun, SU vice president of public relations, responded similarly.

“Being in the college, recognizing our privilege, I think its important that we become active citizens. The least we can do is give $5,” DeBaun said.

The Community Service Office will also be working on finding more opportunities for students to get involved. But as of this week, it has nothing specific planned.
KWUR was also quick to respond to the tragedy. The radio station will collect money at its annual showcase on Friday. Three local bands will be performing. KWUR hopes that 500 people will be in attendance.

Though admission is free for students, a $5 fee is required from everyone else, and donations will be encouraged. All money collected will go to Doctors Without Borders’ Haiti Relief Fund.

According to junior Kenny Hofmeister, the general manager for KWUR, this fund was chosen because the organization already had a hospital up and running on the ground, unlike other foundations, which are struggling to get in to the country and set up. KWUR felt obligated to help contribute to the relief, he said.

“If you looked at the pictures online and read the stories that have come up, it’s important that everybody get involved, and I think we should be no different and give them whatever we can,” Hofmeister said. “We should get involved because we’re human beings and they are human beings that are suffering.”

Other student groups will be holding meetings this week to discuss what role they can play in the relief.

The earthquake was the worst on record in 200 years. The tremor, which caused the power to go out and fires to flare in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, had a magnitude as high as 7.0 on the Richter scale. Many aftershocks followed the initial quake.

Haiti sits on a massive fault, which was the cause of numerous earthquakes in the past, although none in recent times compared in magnitude to the one last week.

The earthquake was so strong that it could be felt on neighboring islands in the Caribbean, including Cuba.

As of yet, it has been impossible for relief officials to determine the death toll, but they warn that it will be high, for  more victims will be found as search teams work through the overwhelming amount of rubble and debris.