Cal Poly students rally to help victims in Haiti

By Nazia Querashi

Though the earthquake in Haiti occurred three weeks ago and
coverage of the destruction has dwindled to little more than a
trickle on the nightly news, efforts to aid victims remain strong
on the Cal Poly campus.

The 6.0 aftershock that hit Haiti on Jan. 20 destroyed a great
deal of infrastructure, making it more difficult to get aid to the
country. The confirmed death toll from Haiti’s earthquake has risen
above 150,000 in the Port-au-Prince area alone.

There is still a large need for medical supplies, food and
shelter in Haiti and many Cal Poly students are finding ways to
raise awareness around campus and are putting in the extra effort
to help out. Nicole Vasquez, a third year accounting student, said
she was very concerned for the people of Haiti.

‘I cannot imagine losing all my belongings and having to start
from scratch, it just bothers me that I cannot do much from here. I
would like to go to Haiti and help clean up and provide food to
people if I had the opportunity,’ said Vasquez.

James Villa, a fourth-year civil engineering student and Chi Rho
Omicron member, is proud to be part of a club on campus that is
helping find relief for Haiti.

‘We’re doing a fundraiser on campus soon, and it will donate 15
percent of earnings to a non-profit organization,’ said Villa. ‘We
try to raise money for all important causes like Haiti.’

Villa said it is important for students to go beyond just
attending classes and getting more involved around campus.

‘I think students just come to school and do what they have to
do, but it is important to be more involved in clubs and aware of
global situations and how we spend our time helping other people,’
said Villa.

Students who are not involved in a club can still Haiti relief
efforts in other ways. President Michael Ortiz and the Cal Poly
community are urging students and faculty to participate in the
upcoming blood drive Feb. 9 to 11 in Ursa Minor of the Bronco
Student Center.

Cal Poly Pomona and the American Red Cross are working together
to raise money and emergency supplies such as food and water.

The Cal Poly Federal Credit Union, located in the Bronco Student
Center, is accepting money donations and will deposit the funds in
a special account for Haitian relief.

The earthquake in Haiti caught the attention of the nation, it
is no surprise that even celebrities are voicing and influencing
others as much as they can to help. However, some students question
the involvement of celebrities in the cause.

Zugey Kumagai, a second-year communication student, is worried
for the people in Haiti, but is somewhat disturbed by how America
handle natural disasters around the world differently.

‘I just wonder where was all the help when the Typhoon in the
Philippines hit, and why the media chooses to focus more on
celebrity influenced charities,’ said Kumagai. ‘Of course I want
the Haitians to get help, but I would just like a better system to
handle all natural disasters the same.’

Cal Poly has various information centers to better inform
students what to do in case of an emergency. Since the earthquake
in Haiti, many residents in California have done more to educate
themselves on what do to in the case of an earthquake.

Debbi McFall, the emergency services coordinator for campus,
would like everyone on campus to be better educated about
earthquake preparedness.

‘One basic and easy thing we can do during an earthquake is the
duck, cover and hold drill that we urge people to practice,’ said
McFall. ‘In Haiti many of the casualties were found under the
debris near doorways because people automatically run out of the
building during an earthquake instead of getting under something
sturdy and holding on.’ In the case of an emergency, each building
on campus has one or more faculty members trained to aid
students.

‘People that panic and cause chaos tend to be the people that
are not informed with emergency procedures and are not aware of
techniques to help protect them during an emergency,’ said McFall.
‘Knowledge is power, especially in cases of an earthquake, and if
your not part of the solution, your part of the problem.’

Students can also find information online on earthquake
preparedness on Web sites like the Great California Shakeout at
www.shakeout.org.

The Web site provides activities, helpful hints, and what to
expect during an earthquake. For more information, visit the
Emergency Services link on the Cal Poly Pomona Web page. ‘

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