Campus groups engage in Japan relief

Over the past couple of weeks, students at the College have been coming together to raise money in response to the recent 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that occurred in Japan in March. This quake was the fifth-largest in the world since 1900 and nearly 8000 times stronger than the earthquake that devastated Christchurch, New Zealand in February.
The current situation in Japan has seen strong support from people around the world. The disaster has left more than 28,000 people dead or missing. Nuclear accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi plant are now on par with the 1986 Chernobyl explosion.
According to Chaplain to the College Rick Spalding, no one person has stepped forward yet to organize the relief effort, but students from various entities have planned events open to participation from all students.
CC Co-Presidents Francesca Barrett ’12 and Nick Fogel ’12 reached out to students on April 11, stating in an e-mail, “After the disaster in Japan, our campus has been active in trying to provide assistance and relief to ameliorate the devastation.”
On April 12, the Jewish Religious Center held a pasta dinner fundraiser for Japan, with a suggested donation of $5 per person. The Muslim Student Union led a Muslim fast event on April 13, where students were able to donate their breakfast and lunch meal points to disaster relief, followed by a Japanese dinner at Mission dining hall with a portion of every swipe donated as well. Renowned filmmaker Linda Hoagland, who was in Japan at the time of the earthquake and tsunami, spoke in Paresky Auditorium after the dinner.
A Japan relief coalition has been meeting weekly since coming back from spring break. No specific person is in charge, and all students are welcome to attend. So far, the group has made and sold handmade paper star earrings in Paresky for $5 each and donated all proceeds.
Asian American Students in Action is sponsoring a paper crane folding marathon throughout the rest of April, with proceeds going to Red Cross. The group kicked off this month-long marathon on April 7 in Baxter Hall.
Events to come include the “Mr. Williams” contest to be hosted by All-Campus Entertainment on Saturday and a Japanese movie night, displaying films in the “Zatoichi” series, to be hosted by the Japanese department on April 30 and May 1 in Paresky Auditorium. Donations will be collected at both events.
As for Lehman Council, Tara Deonauth ’13 said that it is “currently working on the Great Day of Service [and] has not yet done anything with regard to relief efforts for Japan.” However, once the Great Day of Service is finished, Lehman Council will focus on creating a partnership with a Japanese university in an effort to create a more lasting relationship with Japan, according to Deonauth.
“We want more than just writing a check from the other side of the ocean,” Spalding said. “It is a long-term thing we’re hoping to do.
“We’re all pooling what we are able to pull together, so that when we finally make humanitarian and compassionate gifts, we can say they come from our whole community,” Spalding continued. A central pool for funds has been created and the Japan relief coalition will ultimately decide where all the money will go, although according to Spalding it will most likely go to the Red Cross and other related organizations for disaster relief.
“One thing everyone around the table agrees on is that this is a moment in history, not a passing tragedy,” Spalding said. “It’s a turning point in many ways and we want very much to have the Williams community hold on way past this semester. Hopefully we can bring some speakers to campus next fall to maintain our focus on continuing our relationship with Japan.”

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