Student groups’ donations benefit hurricane relief in the Philippines, but UT can do more to help


Amanda Almeda

Students perform the traditional Philippine tinikling dance at the Filipino Student Association's Filipino Cultural Night on Saturday. 

Amanda Almeda

On Saturday, members of the Filipino Student Association performed the traditional Philippine tinikling dance before an audience of almost 300 for its annual Filipino Cultural Night. This year’s event was more than just a celebration of culture — it was a time to bond over the impact of Typhoon Haiyan, the disaster that recently devastated the homes and lives of many of these students’ friends and families back in the Philippines. The association used this opportunity to raise money for the victims. Donations from the event went to Yolanda Medical Relief, an organization that is helping provide medical care to victims of the superstorm. 

This effort was one of many that the association and other organizations on campus have made to help provide relief to the Philippines. The association also recently hosted a benefit night at the restaurant Oishi Japanese Fusion. Sigma Phi Omega, an Asian-interest sorority, is hosting a clothing drive for victims through the month of November. Members of the Asian American Campus Ministry have also pooled together to donate money to relief efforts. Last week, the Red Cross Club held a pastry and coffee sale and collected about $930 in donations for the victims. 

While it is understandable that primary relief from UT students seems to be coming from organizations with more obvious ties back to victims of the typhoon, UT should consider a wider university effort to raise funds for those affected by the devastating storm. Other public universities have had stronger university-level support for the disaster victims. West Virginia University, for example, has promoted the use of its Center for Service and Learning as a proxy for donations and as a resource for assisting student organizations with their relief efforts. 

UT in its entirety encompasses a student body with a diverse range of commitments. Those who argue against a University-driven effort to support charitable causes insist that UT would be biased in favoring a specific cause over all others. The association’s President Jeffrey Nguyen said to capture this diversity of interests, it would be fairer for student organizations to lead in championing their causes.  

But major global disasters have pressing significance. With more than 50,000 people in its student body, UT has a lot of power to make a big impact. If we hold true to our motto of “What starts here changes the world,” we should use our power in numbers to do so. It could start with making donations as easy and accessible as Facebook has made them at the top of our newsfeeds, and it could be as simple as sending out a University-wide email with a quick list of ways to lend support to the cause on campus and online. 

Students can make online contributions to the typhoon victims through the association’s page for Yolanda Medical Relief and through Huffington Post's list of organizations mobilizing disaster relief efforts.

Almeda is a marketing senior from Seattle.