GW, area colleges plan ‘Haiti Day’

Senior administrators are reaching out to universities across the District and in Virginia to launch a “Haiti Day” to promote long-term aid in Haiti, after an earthquake devastated the country last month.

GW alumna and first lady of Haiti Elizabeth Preval is in talks with Univeristy President Steven Knapp to promote the initiative. Vice President for Health Affairs John Williams said he believes the day would partly focus on education and the future of Haiti.

“This would be a day for all educational institutions to have their students, faculty and staff be educated about the history of Haiti, what’s going on in Haiti right now, and what the potential future for Haiti is,” Williams said.

GW has been active in the Haiti relief effort. The University held a fundraiser in January allowing students, faculty and staff to “swipe for Haiti,” by making donations with their GWorld cards. GW has also sent several doctors and aid workers to help treat the injured, and Williams is scheduled to travel to the country later this month to provide aid.

Although massive efforts for the country have taken place at universities across the nation, “Haiti Day” would ensure that these efforts are not temporary, said Assistant Vice President for Government, International and Community Relations Michael Akin.

“This day is for everyone to come together and raise awareness about an ongoing issue,” Akin said. “This day will not just be about [raising awareness] for one day or one week.”

Nonprofit organizations and student associations would be encouraged to take part in the efforts, Akin said.

The Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area held conferences concerning the efforts in hopes of gathering participation from other educational institutions in the area.

Due to the snowstorm that hit D.C. earlier this month, the effort is still in its initial stages. Many universities have not confirmed participation yet but are in the stage of consideration, said Sally Kram, director of government and community relations for the Consortium of Universities. Akin and Williams said they did not have a guess as to when the day might be.

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