Aid Japan, responsibly

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March 14, 2011

11:34 PM

On Friday, an 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck Japan. The death toll increases everyday, and the cost of the catastrophe is still unknown. The days ahead will be hard for those affected by this disaster. As hearts go out to them, people around the world will want to donate their time and their money to help Japan recover; so, too, — we hope — will students at the College of William and Mary.

Global citizenship is something the College likes to promote. And that isn’t a bad thing, if done correctly. Philanthropy is completely understandable and admirable, and we must help in whatever way is best for the supported cause.

When an earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, the College wanted to help. Clubs and organizations cropped up hoping to aid in the recovery of the Caribbean nation. But many of those organizations disbanded only a few months after the initial push, and those that did not were rarely heard from. Now that another natural disaster has occurred, the College could see the same rapid development of organizations hoping to help. This isn’t a sustainable way to help Japan.

Any support will be greatly appreciated, but we hope for efficient use of student-led aid. Students may wish to travel to Japan to try to help with the work themselves. While the sentiment is surely a heartfelt one, the money spent on plane tickets, lodging and food would do far better in the hands of relief organizations such as the Red Cross or USAID.

Students wishing to contribute must determine the best ways to help. If that means starting a club, then by all means start a club. To these students: We ask you to maintain your organization’s commitment to relief. Japan will need our help long after the headlines and photos vanish. However, students should keep in mind that founding clubs isn’t the only way to make an impact. The campus already has aid-based organizations with the potential to help Japan. Using organizations posted on the websites of CNN, MSNBC or FOX News are also safe ways to donate.

Help doesn’t take any one form. Students should aid disaster relief forces in any way possible.

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