The Haitian Student Organization (HSO), along with the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), hosted a roundtable discussion last night at the Wesley Center discussing initiatives that UM will commit to for helping Haiti.
The purpose was for HSO to create a movement to keep the relief efforts going, even longer. Arielle Duverda, an HSO member and coordinator for the event, said that the drives and donations can’t go on forever.
“As a collective student body, here [at UM] or elsewhere we have to help out in the community,” she said. “A lot is still needed.”
The discussion was initially supposed to be an event where students who were in Haiti during the quake and Haitian students would talk about their experiences.
“A lot of people did not want to talk about it,” Duverda said. “The thought made the event less intriguing.”
Under executive director Tiffany Madera, CLAS was all for the idea of creating a platform for students to voice their ideas and vision.
“I support students having their own opinions to frame their lives,” Madera said.
A variety of people came from those working for Haiti relations to non-Haitian UM students. People talked about the need for a course on Haiti.
Dr. Steve J. Stein, director for CLAS, wants students to do long-term projects in Haiti, whether through study abroad or other planning programs.
“We’re a university; we’re supposed to do this,” Stein said. “Well, let’s do it.”
Senior Vanessa Joseph spoke out about the apathy coming from the university’s administration, in regards to helping the relief effort.
Joseph was one of the first to e-mail President Shalala about offering Haiti assistance but she kept getting bounced from one administrative member to the next. Many people, like HSO treasurer Gerard Mathelier came to the roundtable to go forward not back.
“I know what happened was devastating but we should look towards the future,” he said.
Andrea Concepcion may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.