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Saturday, September 23, 2017

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What is the role of the student body in Harvey recovery efforts?


Students volunteer at BBVA after Hurricane Harvey. | Thomas Dwyer/ The Cougar

University of Houston students received an email from President and Chancellor Renu Khator Monday morning, which discussed a plan that students, faculty and staff hope to follow as we recover from Hurricane Harvey. In efforts to rebuild the campus and the community, all students need to help the school they go to and not leave it to faculty and student leaders. 

Though many students were fortunate enough to escape the hurricane without incurring too much damage, some members of our student body are in danger of losing more to the ravages of the storm than others.

In an email blast sent out at the beginning of the week, Khator announced that the administration is committed to supporting students, faculty and staff members who were affected by Harvey.

“You are our future, and we are dedicated to your educational experience,” Khator said. 

The email, sent out on Labor Day, outlined a plan for students to follow as the city of Houston and many of its residents are in recovery.

Students were told that the University would be flexible and compassionate in working to get back to normal, but with many students already considered to be at risk, what responsibility do the more fortunate members of the UH student body owe to those whose futures at the University have been jeopardized by Harvey?

An education opens people up to so many opportunities. Higher learning is a privilege that gives and gives. It not only benefits the students who will become graduates, but it also benefits their families. These benefits, however, come at an intense cost, the burden of which is felt differently by those who struggle to make ends meet.

As individual students and as a University as a whole, whether we succeed in our mission of compassion will be measured by how many students can remain on track to graduate without significant delay or additional expense in the aftermath of Harvey.

Compassion can be measured in several ways, but in times of need it is measured best not only in symbolic gestures, but in action. Many students have already joined impromptu groups geared towards volunteering for organizations that support disaster relief around Houston, and our lecture halls are likely filled with students who have devoted time to recovery efforts.

If you have not already, spend some time clicking around in the Coogs Care app in your Access UH account. If you find an organization that is doing some good service work for our fellow Coogs, join up. In times of need, there is nothing worse than sitting around while other people are struggling.

If this disaster has passed you without cruelty, and you do not look around to see who you can help, one day you might regret not doing your part.

The Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services provided a link to some information about the recovery and volunteer options available to students looking to help.

If you were thinking about volunteering or learning more about where to donate to directly help your fellow Coogs’ stay in school, consider the UH Cougar Emergency Fund. Donations here directed toward Harvey will assist students who have filed for additional aid following losses to the storm.

If you know someone who was affected by the flood, reach out to them. Know that they are going through a stressful time and that their lives have changed. Now is the time to fulfill our responsibilities to our classmates and friends.

Assistant opinion editor Mia Valdez is a creative writing junior. She can be reached at [email protected]

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