Purdue News

January 2005

A monthly letter from President Martin C. Jischke

Most Purdue students were at home for the winter holidays on December 26 when the terrible tsunami wave swept through 11 Asian nations, taking the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and destroying entire communities. However, many of our students were deeply moved by the scenes of human suffering they witnessed in the aftermath of the disaster. Even before classes resumed on January 10, faculty and staff members began to receive phone calls and e-mails from students asking what they could do to help assist the people affected by the tsunami.

With Purdue Student Government playing a coordinating role, and support from the Office of the Dean of Students, a coalition of campus groups raised more than $12,500 in just 12 days. Student organizations participating included the Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Association, Mortar Board, Residence Hall Council and Purdue Student Union Board.

On January 31, the students presented a check to the Tippecanoe Chapter of the American Red Cross. The money will be sent to the International Response Fund.

Numerous organizations and individuals – including faculty, staff and alumni – contributed to the drive, which was led by several students. Among them were:

• Timothy Jones, coordinator of the fund-raising effort and a senior majoring in industrial engineering from Evansville, Indiana;

• Purdue Student Government President Aaron Schnur, a senior from Newburgh, Indiana, majoring in management;

• Kunal Mehta, a senior majoring in management. Kunal's family lives in southwestern India and operates a business that supplies diesel engine parts to fishing cooperatives that were devastated by the tsunami. He is treasurer of the Excalibur Club, a group of residents from Wiley Hall that raised $1,000 for the campaign.

Money was collected from all over the West Lafayette campus, including at the Purdue-IU basketball game, as well as from sites in fraternity and sorority houses, cooperative houses and residence halls.

All too often, I hear the opinion that today's generation of students is materialistic and indifferent to the problems of people less fortunate. Yet I regularly encounter examples that tell a different story. January 17 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day – was a University holiday, but hundreds of Purdue students and employees gave up their free time to take part in community service projects.

When the Purdue Office of Community Relations asked for volunteers to help paint the interior of a Lafayette elementary school, more than 350 people from the campus and community, including members of some Boilermaker athletic teams, turned out. When children arrived for classes the next morning, they found a school that had been transformed by the workers.

Volunteerism is one aspect of a land-grant institution's engagement mission. The University uses its many resources to support the citizens, communities and businesses of our state. Likewise, the people who are the heart and soul of Purdue can increase their power to serve by working together.

I am deeply proud of their efforts.


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