The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has left the campus community astonished, and many of us have been paralyzed by the magnitude of the devastation. Over the past few days, many members of this campus community have expressed the desire to help and aid the residents of New Orleans. As we end our first week of school, we are saddened by these events but relieved by the outpouring of compassion we have seen on this campus. Nicolette and I have spoken to numerous students this week; we have realized the impact of this national disaster on local CMU students as well as this entire country. Though this is not the typical "Presidential Perspectives" article, we have decided to expand our focus and efforts to this tragedy.
Nicolette and I have met with administrators and students who are moved and affected by the catastrophe. We are realizing more and more that this campus has become dedicated to helping rebuild the city of New Orleans in any way possible. Providing aid to victims and students at peer institutions might be the best way for us to accomplish this goal. On our end, we are in the process of finding out what organizations are interested in helping in the relief effort. We are also looking for organizations that have begun planning similar efforts. Basically, we are encouraging anyone who would like to help in any way to contact us as soon as possible. We realize that our effect will be much larger if we work together, so we would like to pool all the resources on this campus to have a meaningful effect in New Orleans.
We have already initiated some planning for transportation of goods through M. Shernell Smith, CMU's Coordinator of Student Development. We are also communicating with Jennifer Church, Interim Dean of Student Affairs, about campus-wide initiatives. We are planning a town hall meeting this Thursday, September 8, to be held in Kirr Commons. Nicolette and I encourage all students on this campus to get involved with these relief efforts and to come express their opinions at the town hall meeting. We look forward to helping the campus community shape action plans and make an impact on the relief efforts in New Orleans.