New Jersey State Colleges and Universities Assist in Sandy’s Aftermath From Relief to a Longer Term Response and Restoration
By Mel Fabrikant Monday, December 10, 2012, 04:33 PM EST
Examples of Helping Efforts
The initial response of New Jersey’s nine state colleges and universities to the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy was focused mainly on the basic needs of students and employees and, in affected communities, the need for local residents’ access to secure buildings and communication technology.
Now that most of the immediate needs of students have been met, these public institutions and their students are engaged in longer range assistance aimed at restoration of lives, essential structures and public areas in the aftermath of the devastating storm. Some of the institutions’ leaders have vowed to support helping activities through May 2013 (graduation). The helping efforts are widely viewed by leaders as integral to the institutions’ academic, civic, public service and economic development roles.
The efforts thus far are many and varied, and the following examples have been compiled by the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities for news story background.
Sharing of Campus Resources Immediately after the Storm
Montclair State made unoccupied residence halls available to students displaced from their homes by the storm and housed 40 faculty and staff who were displaced.
New Jersey City University invited neighbors to use a warming and recharging station that it established soon after reopening November 3.
Stockton opened its new Manahawkin instructional site to community residents offering free computer and device charging services for those who remained without power in this hard hit area. The center also allowed residents to telephone or email loved ones, insurance companies and home repair companies and it served as a collection center for donated items.
Fundraising, volunteer organizing, assistance with direct relief
TCNJ has a special campaign and website to engage student volunteers through its Bonner Center for Student Engagement. It’s called TCNJ Here for Home: the TCNJ Response to Sandy http://hereforhome.pages.tcnj.edu
Kean University students, through the Kean Center for Leadership in Service, assisted with relief efforts in Atlantic City coordinated by Catholic Charities.
Montclair State fundraisers or food drives for relief efforts included an open mic night sponsored by Alpha Phi Omega, and several athletic events in December will include collection of food, clothing and donations. Donation drop-off sites were also established at several locations on campus.
New Jersey City University established a special fund for Hurricane Sandy relief as part of its annual giving campaign. This will set aside money in a restricted account to help both students and employees of the university who need direct relief.
New Jersey City University’s Department of Music, Dance and Theater held extra performances of a production called Strange Boarders; proceeds went to relief funds for Sandy victims.
Rowan has a special Relief Efforts webpage
A Rowan University student, Derek Koch designed a tee shirt with a Restore the Shore graphic that has helped raise more than $300,000 for relief efforts.
Stockton College has set up special relief funds, one for students and one for employees that individuals can give to on-line.
Stockton College students will be putting on a play December 8 to raise money for its two relief funds (for students and for employees) and collect donations and raise awareness about Sandy and its damage and recovery. The play will be the culmination of an effort among writers and actors and others who worked an entire day to produce it.
Greek Life organizations at The College of New Jersey hosted an event November 28 to collect food, clothing and blankets for Sandy victims.
TCNJ students are working on a way to donate their meal plan dollars to support students, faculty and staff traveling to the hardest hit areas, to help cover the cost of transportation, cleaning supplies and work materials and provide assistance to those whose homes were badly hit.
William Paterson University has established an Emergency Student Relief Fund to assist students who have suffered severe hardship due to Hurricane Sandy, such as major physical damage to their primary residence or vehicle, major damage to school-related supplies (e.g. computer, textbooks), lost wages, etc. The effort is being coordinated through the University’s Office of Institutional Advancement. Donations are being solicited from alumni and friends, and contributions can be made online by accessing the button on the University’s home page. A committee has been formed with student representation to determine the recipients. The effort is ongoing.
Student-led efforts at William Paterson include an SGA-led coin drive; comedy and karaoke night fundraisers by the Latino Heritage Commission; a variety show by the Gender and Sexuality Alliance benefiting the hard-hit Ali Forney Center in NYC which serves the LGBT community; and a coordinated effort by students to collect donations and support the work of the Father English Center which provides social services to youth, adults and families in the city of Paterson.
Clean-up efforts in affected areas
TCNJ students went to Cattus Island County Park, Toms River, December 8 to clean up garbage and debris and straighten out trails there. On Dec 1 students and faculty helped with removal of debris and damaged structures at a church and four homes in Manasquan.
Kean University students helped with clean-up activities in hard-hit Union Beach, Allenhurst and Loch Arbour.
Montclair State students are planning to go to the Atlantic Highlands for a general cleanup of streets and beaches. On November 21, 36 individuals from Montclair State—students, faculty and staff-- helped with a cleanup in Sea Bright.
A NJ City University employee, Ella Rue, helped create work parties to send out to area homes needing to be made “safer, warmer and dryer,” using an approach developed to aid family homes in Appalachia.
Technical Assistance – Leadership Training
New Jersey City University’s Business Development Incubator and Small Business Development Center are reaching out to small businesses affected by Sandy and helping them to apply for federal loans, offering space, technology resources, staff time and expertise.
A Rowan University civil and environmental engineer, Dr. Beena Sukumaran, is heading up projects to assess Sandy’s damage to NJ bridges, waterfront developments and flood control systems. A Rowan team will produce a report for the engineering profession and the State of NJ to learn from the disaster, build more resilient infrastructure and mitigate the effects of future storms.
Rowan University professor of radio, television and film, Jonathan Mason, is working as part of an international team of professionals helping to restore and retouch important family photos and home movies belonging to those in the NY/ NJ area whose homes were damaged by the storm.
Ramapo College’s Civic and Engagement Center is conducting in cooperation with Jersey Cares a training program that will enable members of the Ramapo community—students, faculty and staff—to coordinate Ramapo-sponsored relief efforts. Many of Ramapo College community members interested in the training have already donated time, clothing, food or money to relief efforts.
The John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy at Thomas Edison State College organized and hosted a meeting December 4 with municipal leaders from throughout New Jersey and officials from FEMA’s recovery and support team to discuss recovery efforts, the impact of Hurricane Sandy on their cities and towns and to learn about opportunities and resources available to them as they continue recovery efforts. FEMA officials also discussed strategies for municipal planning in the wake of natural disasters and how towns can communicate better when normal lines of communication are not available during and after natural disasters.
The New Jersey State Library, an affiliate of Thomas Edison State College, continues to coordinating efforts with the New Jersey Library Association and Library Link NJ to support the state’s library community. The New Jersey State Library is working to help restore Internet access where possible and update webpages on behalf of libraries affected by Hurricane Sandy and has made EBSCO Publishing’s Home Improvement Reference Center™, a resource providing detailed, user-friendly, “how-to” information about home improvements and repairs, accessible to New Jersey residents and businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy for free through the JerseyClicks.org portal.
Contacts for additional information
The College of New Jersey Matt Golden 609-771-3070
Kean University Matthew Caruso 908-737-0580
Rowan University Joe Cardona 856-256-4240
Richard Stockton College of NJ Tim Kelly 609-642-4950
Montclair State University Suzanne Bronski 973-655-4334
New Jersey City University Ellen Wayman-Gordon 201-200-3428
William Paterson University Stuart Goldstein 973-720-2971
Ramapo College of NJ Anna Farneski 201-684-6844
Thomas Edison State College Joseph Guzzardo 609-777-3083 #2047
NJ Association of State Colleges & Universities Paul Shelly 609-989-1100