Relief efforts for Typhoon Haiyan mobilized by University community in time for Homecoming weekendand Daily Princetonian Staff | Nov 17, 2013
Student council volunteers gathered$2,400 to support the victims of Typhoon Haiyan through the charitable organizations Oxfam International, Catholic Relief Services and Stiftung Solarenergie by selling T-shirts at the Princeton/Yale football game this weekend, according to Deputy Dean of Undergraduate Students Thomas Dunne.
The United Nations has put the typhoon's death toll at 4,200 people as of Saturday, although the Philippine government has insisted that the death toll is closer to 3,637, NBC News reported. The storm, which struck on the morning of Nov. 8, was one of the strongest in recorded history, according to CNN.
T-shirts were sold for $10 at the football game and will still be available for purchase through the Office of Undergraduate Students and at the bonfire on Sunday, according to Dunne. Additional funds were gathered in front of Lewis Library and Fine Hall, and at the Triangle Club performances.
The International Crisis Response Group, a University platform for coordinating relief efforts, meton Thursdayto discuss the University’s role in addressing the crisis, while an ad hoc committee to mobilize relief efforts was formed at ameeting organized by the University’s Pace Center for Civic Engagement. The committee comprises four student action groups including awareness and communications, fundraising, events, and community connections, according to Pace Center Communications CoordinatorGwen McNamara.
One member of the awareness and communications group is Raya Buensuceso ’17, a student from the Philippines who has manned an awareness table in Frist Campus Center along with other students since last Tuesday to raise awareness and encourage donations.
While the awareness table was unable to accept donations last week due to its lack of official recognition as a student group, Buensuceso said, the Pace Center has now obtained permission for the table to accept donations, and it will accept cash contributions this coming week. In the meantime, people wishing to donate have been directed tointeraction.org, a website unaffiliated with the University that suggests organizations to donate to for disaster relief.
She added that the group may place donation boxes in the dining halls and may arrange additional awareness events in the future.
“I’m from the Philippines, so I felt that it was my obligation to help out,” Buensuceso said of her motivation to man the table.
Buensuceso also posted in theClass of 2017 Facebook groupshortly after the disaster to raise awareness and encourage donations.
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The group planned to take advantage of the influx of alumni during Homecoming weekend to collect funds and discuss current awareness of the issue on campus, publicity and the most effective allocation of prospective donations.
“I think we should fulfill the University’s informal motto, 'in the nation's service and in the service of all nations,' by really coming together and showing our solidarity and support. I think we should show the world that we really do care,” president of the University'sInternational Employees Group, IEGAP, Florevel Fusin-Wischusen said.
She also said that the University should follow Yale’s lead by publicizing its support for relief efforts on its official website. An announcement encouraging those affected by the typhoon to seek support from community members has since been posted on the Davis International Center website by its director, Jacqueline Leighton.
Although the IEGAP tried to collect donations earlier, University policy forbids staff members from soliciting contributions. Instead, staff members have the option of supporting efforts led by students or the Office of Religious Life.
Several people attending the meeting mentioned a lack of awareness on campus, which they attributed to the isolated nature of Princeton’s privileged community.
Many agreed that, while it is important to provide aid for Tacloban, the largest city in one of the hardest-hit areas of the Philippines, other, more remote regions with less or no media coverage also need support.
In a subsequent meeting, student members of the fundraising committee selected two U.S.-based organizations recommended by the University, Oxfam and Catholic Relief Services, as well as Stiftung Solarenergie, an organization led by Princeton trustee Jaime Ayala ’84 that focuses on providing solar lamps to victims.
“Of course we want to address short-term issues, but also we want to be able to have a longer relationship with the organizations we’re working with. We know that recovery is not going to be overnight,” Ricardo de Los Reyes ’17, a member of the fundraising committee,said.
A benefit concert for victims of the typhoon is currently in the works for early December. Student performance groups such as the HighSteppers and the Tigertones expressed interest in uniting the arts community for relief efforts, according to 2017 Class Council Officer Nathan Suek ’17.
“The great thing about the benefit concert is that it does two things at once: It promotes class unity because you’re bringing people together behind a common cause, and at the same time, you’re benefiting the community,” Suek said.
The a cappella group Old NasSoul will be collecting donations at its next arch sing this Thursday, and the Frist awareness table will continue to be manned this week.
Students who wish to contribute to relief efforts should visit the Pace Center's website,where they can find more information on the student committees and events on campus. Any students who plan on collecting funds should contact the Pace Center beforehand “to understand proper protocolsfor collection and distribution of collected funds,” McNamara said.