Quake aid sought by campus groups

by Ana Ceballos

Searchers sift through debris in the coastal town of Minami-Sanriku, searching for victims of the earthquake and tsunami. MCT Campus
Searchers sift through debris in the coastal town of Minami-Sanriku, searching for victims of the earthquake and tsunami. MCT Campus

Although Japan is known for being prone to seismic activity, the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that hit this island nation delivered the most powerful cataclysm, and subsequent tsunami, in recorded history. Since the disaster occurred, one of the country’s biggest concerns has been the difficulty relief teams are encountering when trying to reach those in need, mainly because of the radiation leaks from damaged nuclear power stations in the area.

According to Eric Frost, a professor of geological sciences at San Diego State, relief teams are having trouble accessing the stricken areas and donations, such as clothing and food, have been restrained temporarily, mainly because radiation risks have Japanese officials concerned about the potential immediate harm to human health.

“Japan is in a very difficult position,” Frost said. “It is very hard for them to know what is going on and what they need to do to improve the situation.”

When asked whether relief teams should be allowed to proceed with the disaster relief programs by the Japanese government, Murray Jennex, an associate professor at SDSU, with 20 years of experience in nuclear studies replied, “A day ago, I would’ve said that they shouldn’t suspend sending relief teams, but the nuclear activity is very fluid and potentially very dangerous, at least for now.”

While there are restrictions on supplies and food, donating money is the best alternative to achieve assured aid. Various fundraisers benefiting the American Red Cross relief efforts fund will be held at SDSU.

The Asian Pacific Student Alliance will collect lightly used items for a rummage sale and all of the proceeds will go toward the relief. There will be no supplies sent to Japan, only money donations.

The Nikkei Student Union is collaborating with Alpha Psi Rho to host the Japan Aid and Relief Showcase. The event is from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on March 25 in The Backdoor in the lower Aztec Center, followed directly by a candlelight vigil remembering those who passed away during this disaster. T-shirts will be sold for $20 from which all profits will also be donated.

The SDSU Japanese Student Association will also start taking donations to give to the American Red Cross starting Thursday. The group is aiming to donate $1,000 and for each person who donates more than $1, they will also make a paper crane.

“There is only one thing we can do,” SDSU alumna Tracie Ugamoto said. “And that is to encourage students, and especially the San Diego community, to help out in any way they can.”