With the horrid images and first-hand accounts of destruction pouring in from South Asia, charitable foundations, corporations, nongovernmental organizations, national governments and international entities began unprecedented relief efforts to rebuild the ravaged region. President Bush has pledged $350 million in aid — a considerable increase from an initial $15 million pledge — sent Secretary of State Colin Powell and his brother Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) to lead an international delegation organizing relief efforts, recruited his two predecessors to raise funds and called upon all Americans to contribute to the relief effort. The outpouring of support has been commendable, and already many relief organizations have raised enough money to implement its support efforts. The University community should, in addition to providing monetary and physical aid, give freely of its greatest resource: intellectual power.

Janna Hutz

Already student groups are uniting to offer support to the tsunami victims. Student groups are coordinating efforts to raise capital for donations and to send students willing to volunteer in aid efforts. The Michigan Student Assembly should appropriate money from its ample and often unused budget to help student groups aid the tsunami victims and consequent reconstruction efforts. The University should also lend its considerable resources to help these student groups achieve its objectives.

Currently the University has focused on responding to the psychological trauma the tsunamis may have left on University students by asking administrators, faculty and staff to extend the “maximum amount of support and flexibility” to members of the community who have been affected. Furthermore, the University is extending walk-in hours for its counseling services so students psychologically afflicted by the tsunami can receive appropriate care.

The counseling services are necessary and ought to be continued, but should not suffice as the only support the University offers. The South Asian tsunamis are the worst natural disaster in our lifetimes — these dire and trying times test our conscience and call each of us to action with an ethic of responsibility to help those in need. The University ought to lend its intellectual power and every considerable resource at its disposal to help not only its own community, but also the South Asian communities most directly affected by the crisis.

In the immediate future, disease will be a major concern for survivors — doctors and public health professionals from the University could help fight sickness. The devastated communities on the affected coastlines will have to be rebuilt — the University hosts architectural and engineering researchers that could help design safer, sturdier housing. Furthermore, tsunamis will continue to threaten the communities resting on Asia’s coastline — geology researchers could design systems to warn coastal residents of the deadly waves. The University, as a world-renowned research institution, has a collection of talents that could enable it to provide a unique, profoundly important, contribution to South Asian relief efforts. Just as Red Cross International is equipped with the technology and personnel to stage nearly instantaneous relief operations, the University community has the resources and intellectual muscle to make a difference on a global scale.

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