Search parties. Airlifts of physicians. Fundraisers. Prayer services. Teach-ins. American colleges, students, and professors are responding to the devastating earthquake in Haiti with their money, their energy, and their time.
Many universities with medical centers are flying physicians in to Haiti to provide emergency healthcare. Last week, Stanford's medical school sent seven emergency-medicine doctors and nurses, and $18,000 worth of medical supplies. Three George Washington University physicians are treating those who were injured when buildings collapsed. The school is working on plans to send medical students to the island in coming weeks and months. Dartmouth President Jim Yong Kim, who was one of the cofounders of Partners in Health—an organization that operates 11 hospitals in Haiti—says students, alumni, and friends of the university have volunteered money, seats on planes, and other logistical help to get a crew of about nine Dartmouth trauma surgeons to Haiti.
Kim, himself a doctor, says he expects further waves of Dartmouth experts to make it to Haiti in the coming weeks. Dartmouth's surgeons are being deployed to the Partners in Health hospitals, which survived the earthquake.
Kim says he'll send only people and material that will actually help the Haitians."What we've learned over the years is that if you come in with a 90 percent solution to a crisis, it can fail if you don't have someone to, say, unload the supplies from the plane," Kim says. "We don't want to clog up the works."
This has been a problem: Journalists have reported that some early planes full of supplies have sat on Haitian runways without being unloaded.
Kim says that besides immediate donations, students and others should learn about Haiti so that they can understand how to prevent such disasters in the future. The devastation "is a result of years of neglect and political turmoil," he says.
Many colleges are viewing the earthquake as a "teachable moment," while others are focused on raising funds or rescuing students trapped in the island nation. Lynn University in Florida, for example, organized a search in Haiti for several Lynn students who had been volunteering there. Pennsylvania State University students have set up fundraising tables on campus. Stanford's medical school has offered to match any donations to Haiti made by students or faculty. A community college in Washington State has turned a free concert into a fundraiser. The University of Southern California is having a prayer vigil and fundraiser today, and Florida International University held a "teach-in" about Haiti.
Searching for a college? Get our complete rankings of America's Best Colleges.