SIU students join in the effort to help Flint

By Tierra Carpenter, @Tierramc_

University students have collected nearly 200 bottles of water to help residents in Flint, Mich., during its water crisis. 

SIU’s NAACP chapter president Ciara Maxwell, a senior from Memphis, Tenn. studying exercise science, said her organization collected about 195 bottles of water through the “Wade in the water, Flint the matter behind the crisis” event held Wednesday in the Student Center. She also said her organization will not stop after this event, and would like to get more Registered Student Organizations and the Carbondale community involved to make their next event larger. 

The National Pan-Hellenic Council has collected monetary donations for the Flint Child and Health Development Fund for about three weeks and teamed up with the NAACP chapter for the event, which was also a discussion about possible causes and solutions to the problem.


Cameron Woods, the graduate advisor of the NPHC, a council of Greek organizations on campus, said he began fundraising for the Flint Child and Health Development Fund after he noticed the efforts of chapters of the organization on other campuses.

Maxwell said she wanted her organization to hold the discussion because it’s a current event that relates to the campus, community and world.

SIU’s NAACP chapter vice president Kianna Hurd, a junior from St. Louis studying political science, said the water crisis relates to students because it’s something that could happen anywhere. Water tests in Flint during September 2015 determined the liquid had enough lead to cause serious health problems. The United Way estimated that up to 12,000 children drank the water, and the Flint Journal reported that more than 70 cases of Legionnaires’ disease could be traced back high levels of lead. 

“This is Flint, but in a couple of months or couple of years this could just as easily be our communities that we care about,” Hurd said. 

During the discussion the Rev. Joseph Brown, an Africana studies professor, said he attributes the water crisis to politics. He said students should get involved to improve the situation and prevent similar ones in the future.

“I would say that everybody who donates a bottle of water or a package of it ought to also make a commitment to register to vote,” Brown said. “If the wrong people are in charge of Michigan or Illinois, we are going to have more and more crisis.”

Hurd said faculty advisers told her to contact staff and students that would be interested in the crisis.


She said she got the idea to include Brown in the discussion after being in his class.

“The Flint lead poisoning is something he’s really passionate about. … I think it’s something that more than our class needs to hear, that the whole campus needs to hear,” Hurd said.

During the discussion Barry Hilliard, a senior from Evanston studying business management, answered a question about why the governor of Michigan has been able to avoid legal action amid the water crisis.

“When you get that idea of allowing something to continue and putting a blind eye to it when you get into politics, it’s easier to make money off of because you can consistently sell things that supposedly fix the problem,” Hilliard said. 

Kendall Crayton, a senior from Peoria studying mining and mineral resources engineering, said he came to the event because he could see a similar crisis occurring in Illinois. 

“Even though they’re 100 or 200 miles away I still feel a connection with them and even though I’m not going through the same trials and struggles they are. I want to do everything I can to help,” Crayton said.

He said he is working alongside fellow student Kamaal Najieb to start his own 15-person task force and fundraiser to collect water bottles, filters and money for Flint. 

He said he is also reaching out to local businesses and nonprofit organizations. Crayton expects to bring their donations to Flint by March.

“They need to look at the person next to them and help their fellow man,” Crayton said.

Maxwell said they are collecting donations until March 11, and they can be brought to any NAACP event or the Student Life office in Room 305 of the Student Center.

Tierra Carpenter can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3325.