UMC Links

University of Utah Reaches Out to Aid Victims of Katrina

September 6, 2005 — “The outpouring of concern and response from our campus community has been overwhelming,” says University of Utah President Michael K. Young in reaction to efforts by individuals and campus groups to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina.

“From the many faculty and staff members who have stepped up to ask how they might help, to the student-initiated and coordinated projects, to University Health Care filling more than 400 prescriptions for patients at Camp Williams-these broad efforts give face to humanity. I am amazed, but not surprised, by all of the heartfelt expressions and actions of support.”

Various University departments met last Friday morning to assess and coordinate campus Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. The efforts include the following:

The University Hurricane Disaster Relief Fundraiser initiative was instigated by three concerned U students, Bonnie Koci, Sofia Lingos and Gregory Lyon. The trio is now leading nearly one thousand University student volunteers in preparing for the benefit, which will be held in connection with Saturday’s Utah versus Utah State University (USU) football game, at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The University of Utah is hosting the program in collaboration with students at Utah State University, Brigham Young University, Salt Lake Community College, Weber State University and Westminster College. The event will begin with a Family Fun Day, from 4 until 6 p.m., on the Marriott Library Plaza., just prior to the 6 p.m. kickoff. A post-game party, from 9 p.m. until midnight, on the Marriott Library Plaza, will cost $3 and includes games, food, raffles, a dance, carnival, live bands, an auction, information booths and a service corner. Proceeds will be given directly to the American Red Cross, which will have representatives onsite that evening.

“College students are always on the forefront of humanitarian efforts,” says Lingos, one of the three chairing the event. “So banding together with all of the Utah universities in this fun and collaborative effort allows us to increase awareness of this terrible catastrophe as well as raise funds to assist the survivors. Students show support for the victims by participating in the event.”

This week, students can sign up to help with the University Hurricane Disaster Relief Fundraiser as well as purchase Disaster Relief ribbons and party tickets at booths located on the U’s Union Patio and throughout campus. Volunteers can also sign up by sending their name, phone number and e-mail addresses to For more information, call 801-541-5499. Student volunteer orientation meetings will be held on Friday, at 2 and 6 p.m., in the Union, room 324.

On Saturday evening, prior to and during the football game, the University will be collecting monetary donations for Hurricane Katrina relief effort at the gates of Rice-Eccles Stadium. Proceeds will go to the American Red Cross. The University is also working to invite Camp Williams evacuees who are able to attend the football game.

Many University faculty members and students are assisting in relief aid. Last Wednesday, one such U visiting professor, Kristina Gibby-Wachter, and the undergraduate students in her “School and Society” course discussed ways they might help. The class typically studies issues of race and class in schools and American society. “But the events of Katrina’s devastation have changed the direction of my class,” Gibby-Wachter notes. “I will now be directing my students in the immediate application of theory to the existing dire circumstances of the Gulf States. Our goal is to raise funds to provide supplies for schoolchildren in the primary and secondary grades as they rebuild, particularly in areas that were blighted and disadvantaged prior to the hurricane.”

Gibby-Wachter explains that the 20 students in the “Reach Schools” project will be involved on three levels. They will: join other University student organizations in immediate fundraising efforts; focus on helping Gulf States evacuees now residing at Camp Williams; and create a sustainable organization that will match public schools in Utah and other states with sister schools in the devastated regions and beyond.

Gibby-Wachter reports that her students “haven’t stopped for one minute. Everyone we approach wants to help out.”

On Friday, in response to a call by the federal government to organize teams of 100 doctors and nurses, more than 300 University Health Care staff volunteered for the assignment, including many from the emergency department, AirMed and various intensive care units. The assembled team is now waiting to be deployed to the affected region. In addition, University Health Care personnel will staff an urgent care clinic at Camp Williams for a week during the coming month. University Health Care has already filled more than 400 prescriptions for residents at the camp.

On Saturday, in response to a request for help from Louisiana State University, University Health Care administration sent 26 University doctors and nurses to the Baton Rouge area. Chris Nelson, associate director of public affairs for the University Medical Center, reports, “We have had a tremendous response from hospital employees who are ready and willing to go when needed. The team we currently have on the ground in Louisiana is helping relieve physicians and nurses who have been working non-stop for more than a week.”

Students who wish to continue their studies but who, because of Katrina’s devastation, will be unable to finish fall semester at colleges and universities in the Gulf States may apply to transfer to the University, notes Fred Esplin, vice president for University Relations. “Students who were attending these institutions may apply to transfer to the University, but must register by Sept. 14th.” For more information on transfers, and admissions, and tuition, visit or call 801-581-7793.

The University’s School of Music and Kingsbury Hall have tentatively scheduled a benefit musical extravaganza for Oct. 2, at 6 p.m., in the U’s Kingsbury Hall. Students, faculty and alumni of the School of Music and Kingsbury Hall administration look forward to teaming with other campus and community organizations in raising ongoing and desperately-needed support for those devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The concert is free, with donations taken at the door. All proceeds will be contributed to the American Red Cross. For more information, contact Kingsbury Hall at 801-581-7100 or the School of Music at 801-581-6762.

The University Counseling Center is available to University students, faculty and staff to provide psychological support and disaster coping resources. The campus community may obtain online sources at or call 801-581-6826 to speak to a counselor.

Notes President Young: “I appreciate those who have already given so generously to aid the victims of Katrina. I urge all members of the University family to give in whatever ways they can to assist in relief efforts.”

The University has established a Web site where, in addition to other important links, the campus community may obtain information on opportunities to donate time, money and services. It may be accessed at