RSOs take charge of hurricane fundraisers

By Gus Bode

Factoid:RSOs who want to sponsor drives should attend a meeting at 6:00 p.m. Thursday in the Student Center Ballroom B

The University strategy for sending aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina will differ from past relief efforts, such as that for the South Asian tsunami in December.

Instead of a centralized collection fund, the University will rely on Registered Student Organizations’ efforts to raise money for hurricane victims. They also plan to direct students to a list of non-profit relief organizations suggested by the Federal Emergency Management Act, said University Spokeswoman Sue Davis.


In February, the Chancellor’s office collected $5,611 to aid tsunami victims.

Chancellor Walter Wendler said that because the hurricane hit closer to home, more organized groups of people are interested in becoming involved.

“In their effort to want to respond, we may be getting in the way of one another,” Wendler said. “We’re trying to make students knowledgeable to make their own decisions instead of acting as the middleman.”

A panel of campus representatives decided on a web-like strategy at a meeting Tuesday, Wendler said. The panel included numerous administrators and Nate Brown, president of the Undergraduate Student Government.

Brown said the exact role of either USG or the RSOs is still unclear but should be more defined by Friday, when another meeting of the panel is scheduled.

Although different, Brown is optimistic about a more student-controlled drive.

“I think that’s a pretty good way,” Brown said. “I’m pleased with the fact that what we’re doing is saying ‘Here are the clear avenues of what you want to do’ to students.”


At this point, he is still gathering information about what RSOs are interested in sponsoring clothing and canned food drives. After a meeting Thursday, he said he will have a better idea of whether USG or Student Development will serve as a dispatcher, or if the organizations will be independent.

“There’s not enough details worked out at this point,” Brown said. “Can USG take it on? I don’t know, and that may end up being what happens. There are a couple questions that need to be answered before that.”

Also, the University’s plan involves referring students to organizations like the Red Cross and Salvation Army, who Wendler said “are geared toward this, and we’re not sure we can do any more than they can.”

The Southern Spotlight, the weekly newsletter of the media and communications office, will list drives and fund-raising events every week. Wendler said that would be the primary tool to organize campus efforts and would include hyperlinks to places to donate.

Davis said the ease of clicking on a link would encourage more students to donate.

Lionel Grant, associate coordinator of the Black Affairs Council, said the University waited too long to act, but the response from students has been powerful. He said the aid may have gotten to the affected area faster if the University took control of the fund-raising but said he was proud of the way students came together.

His organization sponsored a fund-raiser and clothing and food drive Tuesday and raised $700 for hurricane victims.

Davis said though the University is not taking the lead in fund raising, they are more hands-on than with the tsunami because they are finding housing for and accepting displaced students. Three graduate students and four undergraduate students have already been accepted.

“We will take on what we can take on as a University,” Davis said. “We’re not going to be in the fund-raising mode as much as we were with the tsunami. There are some student groups doing that, and that’s fine. Our job will be to direct students to the organizations.”