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Campus finds ways to help Haiti victims

Members of the Mills College community are currently brainstorming ways to help those affected by the earthquake that shook Haiti last week.

Courtney Young-Law, Director of Student Activities, sent an e-mail to student groups on campus Jan. 15 discussing ways to help the relief effort in the aftermath of the 7.0 quake that struck the island nation Jan. 9.

“The severe devastation in Haiti after the earthquake this week has prompted many of us to consider how we can help. I know that many of you student leaders are considering this yourselves, and may have thought of ways to use your clubs and organizations to contribute in the effort to stabilize and rebuild Haiti,” she wrote.

Professor and Head of the Ethnic Studies Department Julia Sudbury also spoke about her thoughts on what the campus should consider when providing aid.

“Many of us are deeply saddened by the destruction and massive loss of life due to the recent earthquake in Haiti. But we must also remember that this natural disaster has been made so much more devastating by decades of political and economic abuses, ” she said. “The Haitian people need solidarity, not charity. In addition to immediate immediate financial and practical aid, we must hold our government and the UN accountable for our role in Haiti’s poverty and insecurity. We must also learn the lessons of Katrina and ensure that Haiti’s reconstruction does not become another site for exploitative ‘disaster capitalism’ and massive criminalization of people’s efforts to survive.”

Residential Life and student leaders discuss ideas to raise money on campus for victims of the earthquake that hit Haiti on Jan. 12. (Morgan Ross).

Sudbury also said she is in the process of working with the French and Francophone Studies Program to coordinate events supporting Haitian relief.

Daphne Muse, the former director of the recently cancelled Women’s Leadership Institute, also gave her advice on how to partner with organizations to help.

“A compassionate and just response follows the hierarchy of needs: first survival, then rebuilding and growth,” she said. “Consider contributing to organizations that authentically develop the capacity of individuals and communities to recover and rebuild, and will stay and work with the local residents and local organizations over the long run.”

Monique Young, Director of Residential Life, also said students should understands any agencies they donate to.

“We want to note to students that they should investigate organizations for themselves to feel comfortable for themselves to donate,” she said.

During a meeting held on Jan. 18, Residential Assistants and student leaders collaborated on ideas for efforts to help get the student body involved.

“I feel that during a natural disaster people have a personal responsibility to help those affected,” said junior Falicia Parrilla.

Ideas discussed included setting out donation boxes for students attending “Mills Got Talent” Jan. 31 and other campus events, to donating meal point money. The group even talked about promoting the upcoming celebrity telethon to be held on Feb. 5, which will be organized by actor George Clooney.

Senior and RA Lisa Kelly said, “It is tragic that in disasters such as these, we help. When it was a country that needed help all along.”

“I think it would be nice if different departments, different organizations did something that we are working on together for Haiti,” said ASMC co-president Ashley Grant.

In the end, the group decided to push for a “Heart for Haiti” campaign on campus.

The idea for the campaign was originally pitched by Rebecca Freeman in a follow up to Young-Law’s e-mail.

“I was thinking that it would be nice to have a campus event to raise money but also to build community,” she wrote. “Since Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, maybe the entire month of February can be dedicated to ‘Have a Heart for Haiti.’ Each Friday during the month, we can charge admission and show a romantic classic in the hall of Haas Pavilion.”

More plans and donations are expected to come in the future months once they are approved by Dean of Student Life Joi Lewis and President Janet Holmgren.

Thinking of donating? Check out the following organizations to help Haiti. Remember to use good judgement, and investigate where your donations go:

Haiti Emergency Relief Fund

Doctors without Borders:

Partners for Health:

Partners in Health’s Sister Organization in Haiti – Zanmi Lasant Clinic:

Dwa Fanm (meaning “Women’s Rights” in Creole):

Doctors Without Borders:

Oxfam International:

Church World Service:

Episcopal Relief and Development:


Catholic Relief Services:




The Lambi Fund of Haiti:

Peace Development Fund:

Know anymore organizations and ways to donate? Leave information in the comment box below.

Daphne Muse and Julia Sudbury contributed to this list of organizations.