Open letter to the Virginia Tech community regarding Hokies United and the earthquake in Haiti
January 15, 2010
The earthquake in Haiti, as all of you know, is creating almost unbelievable devastation with tens of thousands of people killed and hundreds of thousands seeking security, housing, and medical care.
Our ties with Haiti as a university community have grown intimate over the past years: teams of students, faculty, and staff have been on the ground in Haiti (some were there during the earthquake; all are now safe) working on ways to provide better health care, repair bridges, bolster education curricula, and improve livestock tending and food-crop production.
In the spirit of Ut Prosim, Hokies United™ – a student-driven volunteer effort organized to respond to local, national, and international tragedies that may impact our students and community – is leading a university-wide response to mobilize our community’s response to the overwhelming needs of the people of Haiti. The need for humanitarian aid is immediate and urgent as millions of people face challenges of finding food and shelter and creating sanitary living conditions.
The consensus of relief organizations is that, at this point, donations of cash are more helpful than anything else. We would encourage your generous participation in supporting this effort. As with previous Hokies United™ drives, including Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the group has created a website, Hokies Helping Haiti, to make it convenient for everyone to give: (http://www.hokiesunited.org.vt.edu). Additionally, there are many organizations accepting tax-deductible contributions with which you can participate.
Our commitment to the people of Haiti is not something that will disappear after the first few urgent days of underwriting relief efforts are over. We are there for the long haul. In the coming weeks and months we will build on the expertise and experiences in Haiti of our students, faculty, and staff to provide future help. But for the moment the need for financial contributions is desperate, and I thank the university and the greater community in advance for once again joining in a monumentally generous effort at a critical time.
Charles W. Steger
President, Virginia Tech
President, Student Government Association
Laura J. Freeman
President, Graduate Student Assembly