Campus Quickly Responds to Katrina Disaster

El Vaquero Staff Writer

In a rapid response supporting the victims of Hurricane Katrina, the college held a town hall meeting Sept. 7 pledging aid to the victims, and President John Davitt has proposed plans to accommodate students who have been displaced from their homes and campuses.

The meeting was called by Steven White, Vice President of Instructional Services, to discuss the implications of the hurricane for GCC. Members of the American Red Cross, the student government (ASGCC), the Alpha Gamma Sigma academic honors society, a large contingent of hearing-impaired students, and other concerned students and staff members gathered to discuss what GCC could do to support the victims of the hurricane. Red Cross representative Ronald M. Farina, addressing the meeting, declared that the destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina is “the worst disaster [the American Red Cross] has ever seen.”

Fund-raising for worthy causes is a time-honored practice on campus, and recent beneficiaries of this generous spirit have been the victims of Sept. 11 and the tsunami in Southeast Asia.

Various campus organizations, the student government chief among them, have set up “donation centers” all over campus. The proceeds from the jugs at the cash register in the cafeteria or on the counter in the ITS building go directly to the Glendale-Crescenta Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross; so do the proceeds from the sale of the ribbons that are being made by Victor Castellanos and the staff of Admissions and Records. As of of Sept. 3, the jug collection totaled $718.

The Red Cross, founded in 1905, is considered to be one of the most credible disaster relief organizations in the world. “We have a close connection with Red Cross from the campus” says Phil Kazanjian, faculty member and former Red Cross director. Chair of the Health and Physical Education Division, Jim Sartoris, currently sits on the Board of Directors, which further strengthens this bond. The Red Cross is set up only to take donations of money. Donations of food and clothing may be made to local churches, or other charities such as OXFAM.

It was stressed throughout this meeting that the circumstances of this disaster are such that many of the displaced will not be able to return to their homes, possibly ever. Relief donations may be ongoing to offset the chronic nature of the disaster.

The second issue that was addressed was the possibility of refugees. So far, none of the students displaced by Hurricane Katrina have come to GCC, but the college’s President John Davitt,?issued this statement on Sept. 2, “the GCC family is grief-stricken by the daily news accounts of the destruction, loss of life and suffering.? We welcome the opportunity to lend assistance to any of the displaced students from our local area.? Additionally we welcome those students who may choose to come to the greater Glendale area.”

GCC has proposed providing scholarships to cover such expenses as enrollment and books for the destitute students.

Also under discussion was the question of what would happen if GCC were similarly affected? Natural disasters such as earthquakes and seasonal flooding affect the campus, and fortunately, there are safety plans in effect. GCC’s earthquake plan involves evacuating all students who are not too injured to move. In case of disasters, students are directed to go home. There are drinking water and first aid supplies on campus, but the priority is for the safe removal of all students as quickly as possible.

The Campus Police has an earthquake evacuation plan, and the Health Center is prepared to set up a triage unit in the Student Center. Earthquake drills on campus involve the Health Center and the Campus Police orchestrating a simulated first aid set up and building evacuation, but classes continue uninterrupted. The last earthquake drill was two years ago, and they’re preparing for another.

During the meeting, Phil Kazanjian said “We (the Administration) look to the students for leadership in these types of situations.” Involvement opportunities exist at all levels; first, drop a dollar in a donation jug. Someone in Louisiana needs it.

Secondly, now would be a good time to get first aid supplies and an “emergency preparedness kit” together at home. Local churches may be collecting donated food and clothing; others, such as the Dream Center, are sponsoring families that have been displaced by the hurricane.

Any students that cannot return to their school on the Gulf Coast because of the evacuation, are urged to contact the administration liaison Dave Mack, Articulation Officer, at the “New Orleans Hotline,” (818) 240-1000, ext. 5311, or for more information go to For those with time to volunteer or money to donate, please contact the Glendale-Crescenta Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross or another charity organization:

If in doubt about a charity, this site may be helpful:

Or send donations to: American Red Cross, 1501 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale, CA 91204 or call (818) 243-3121 or e-mail [email protected]

Oxfam takes all types of donations. Visit or mail to: Oxfam Supporter Relations, Oxfam House, John Smith Drive, Cowley, Oxford