Students and staff eager to help after Katrina

By on September 14, 2005

Quinnipiac student organizations sprang into action during the first week of classes to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina while the institution opened its doors for students from Gulf Coast schools to enroll.

The Student Bar Association in the School of Law began a fund raiser on Sept. 1 and collected more than $800 by Sept. 6, according to association treasurer Josh Berger. The group, which plans to continue the effort through Sept. 16, will give the money to the American Red Cross’ Hurricane Relief Fund.

The idea to aid victims of the hurricane that ravaged millions of residents of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama originated from several law students’ e-mails to the law school’s assistant dean of students Sherilyn Scully and the association’s president Molly Barker in which they asked how they could help.

“I’m really impressed with all of our students,” said Barker, a second-year law student from Wilton, Maine. “They’re so concerned with the people impacted by the hurricane.”

Since setting up a table on the second floor of the law building to begin the fund raiser, many law students have volunteered their time at the fund raiser, which has operated continually on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Barker said.

“I think it’s absolutely amazing that students with very little time have donated so generously to this fund. It shows a great sense of public and community spirit,” Scully said.

About 75 percent of the funds will go directly to aid hurricane refugees while the rest will go toward the American Cancer Society’s administrative costs, Barker said, stressing that the fund-raising initiative was a team effort.

Barker recalled that a feeling of powerlessness overwhelmed her when she learned of the storm’s magnitude through watching televised news reports. From this feeling, she knew she wanted to aid the victims.

“You feel so helpless when you’re watching [storm coverage] on TV. It takes away some of the helplessness when you give,” Barker said.

Quinnipiac administrators have responded to the hurricane by allowing qualified students from colleges and universities affected by the storm to enroll at Quinnipiac as non-matriculating visiting students for the semester, according to Joan Isaac Mohr, vice president and dean of admissions.

The deadline for visiting students to apply was Sept. 8. At that time Quinnipiac accepted three students; two from Tulane University and one from Loyola University, both in New Orleans. Visiting students needed to make their own living arrangements, Mohr said.

Administrators also planned to aid storm victims by having a “Stuff-a-Bus” drive on Sept. 12 and Sept. 13, where students and faculty donated bottled water, diapers, non-perishable foods, and batteries. Lynn Bushnell, vice president for public affairs, said that once the two mini-buses were filled with supplies, they were dropped off at the New Haven Armory which brings the supplies to storm refugees.

The university has named relief organizations to which it approves students’ giving money, though none of them are affiliated with the university. These groups include the American Red Cross, Charity Navigator, Americares, Christian Relief Fund, Islamic Relief, Feed the Children and Food for the Poor.

Additionally, Quinnipiac plans to send a team of students through Habitat for Humanity to perform relief work in the hurricane-devastated region during spring break in March, administrators said.

“Quinnipiac’s always been a very giving and caring community. People have always helped,” Bushnell said. “Other than 9/11, I don’t think we’ve seen anything of this magnitude. So many people want to help; we just want to make sure we’re being as efficient as possible.”

Federal authorities are calling Hurricane Katrina, a category five storm, the worst natural disaster in American history, warning that the death toll may reach 10,000 and that property damage may exceed $100 billion.


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