USC should do more to help disaster victims

As the concentration of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere increases, natural disasters are becoming more frequent and devastating year after year. The USC community should unite and use its unique resources to help natural disaster victims

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season, which is currently ongoing, started earlier than the official start for the fifth consecutive year.

Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 tropical cyclone that hit the Bahamas Sept. 1, claimed the lives of 61 people. On Sept. 26, the National Emergency Management Agency last stated that  608 people were still missing, which could significantly raise the death toll. 

The most USC has done to respond to a natural disaster was to issue an official statement expressing sympathy to those affected by Hurricane Harvey and reminding students, faculty and staff of USC’s various counseling services and psychological support systems. 

Besides individual donations or volunteer trips to disaster-afflicted areas from students or faculty, the University has not taken any action other than counseling services to aid victims of natural disasters.

When hurricanes claim dozens of lives and wipe out people’s homes and cities, the University can use its power to affect tangible change for those affected by the natural disaster. 

As for ways the University recommended the community help in past natural disasters, it asked those who want to help to donate to a relief agency of their choice. In the future, instead of leaving it up to students to find ways to get involved, USC should take full advantage of its prestige and power by partnering with nonprofit organizations involved in disaster relief such as UNICEF or the American Red Cross.

USC should then help these nongovernmental organizations get what they need by forwarding on calls for financial and/or material donations, equipment lending or volunteers to the USC community. When it comes to donations, USC prides itself on having an extensive alumni network all around the world.  But why hasn’t the University called for the alumni network, which is more than 375,000 strong, to help the affected communities?

The school’s potential volunteer pool is also incredible. USC is home to some of the most talented, energetic and purposeful students on the planet.

USC has already taken similar initiatives for past natural disasters. Through its Volunteer Center, dozens of students have gone on alternative breaks domestically and internationally to explore issues such as immigration, poverty, homelessness, education, environmental preservation and even disaster relief efforts. 

Over the 2017 winter break, the center coordinated a trip that took 13 USC students to Texas, where they helped rebuild homes after the hurricane. This trip proves that it is realistic for the University to be involved on a greater scale than simply its local community. 

As L.A.’s largest private employer, USC also has a hard-working and admirable staff and faculty whose expertise in fields such as medicine, geology, environmental health and law could prove useful to victims and first responders. 

The University could encourage supplies donations by allowing donation bins to be placed around campus. By finally coordinating its unique resources to contribute to relief efforts, the school could reaffirm its commitment to public service and fulfill its “role in the development of the nation and the world.”

As members of the USC community, we are far more resourceful than we imagine, and it is our responsibility to do everything in our power to help those who have lost it all to recover from national disasters. 

Although most of us end up moving on after the initial shock, survivors are in desperate need of food and water for weeks. 

We can no longer ignore our power to help those affected by natural disasters, especially as we prepare ourselves to live in a world where those disasters will have an unprecedented impact on our lives. We can all do much more than we think.