Hat tip to Will Slack ’11:

To the Williams Community,

The devastation in Haiti and especially the horrible human suffering there have touched us all. The news has been almost heart-stopping.

No Williams students were in the country at the time but at least one student appears to have lost family members. On a special online discussion group set up for alumni, many have reported that their family members are safe but that is not true for all.

A news story about an alumnus now providing medical help there, Hernando Garzon ’84, can be read at http://www.sacbee.com/ourregion/story/2460673.html .

Students, faculty, and staff are organizing Williams-based responses. You can follow the plans and join in through http://haitirelief.williams.edu .

Many organizations are taking donations to support relief efforts, including:

The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund at http://clintonbushhaitifund.org/
The American Red Cross at http://www.redcross.org
Partners in Health (Paul Farmer’s organization) at http://www.standwithhaiti.org/haiti
The Boston Foundation (where donations are being matched dollar for dollar) at http://www.tbf.org/Giving/GivingDetail.aspx?id=13244

I trust that in this time of such unimaginable human suffering we will each of us be moved to do all that we possibly can to help.

With regards,
Bill Wagner
Interim President

1) Why can’t the College create an RSS feed and/or archive of all the e-mail that goes out to all-students or other public (essentially) lists? We won’t always have Will Slack around to keep us informed! I don’t expect Williams to spam every alumnus or parent with this sort of appeal, but it should make it easier for interested alums/parents to stay informed. At some point, the College will probably do this, five years after we first suggested it. (I see that this particular letter is listed at the President’s page, but a) I would like a record of all communication like this, not just selected letters and b) there is no way (?) to be informed of new letters unless you screen scrape that page every day.

2) Garzon would make an excellent Bicentennial Medal recipient. From that article:

The images streaming from Haiti were bleak: buildings collapsing into heaps of dust and rubble, the wounded spilling into chaotic streets and hospitals too badly damaged by Tuesday’s devastating quake to treat the thousands of injured and dying.

Dr. Hernando Garzon, a Kaiser Permanente emergency physician in Sacramento, monitored the devastation and began packing his bags with sutures, antibiotics, painkillers.

“They’ll need a lot of help,” he said. “It looks like total chaos.”

On Wednesday afternoon, he was bound for Port-au-Prince, the devastated capital of the impoverished Caribbean country.

“It’s terrible. It’s a big disaster,” said Garzon, who flew out of Sacramento International Airport to join a small team from Relief International.

3) Here is the alumni discussion/e-mail group devoted to Haiti. (You will need an alumni login for access.) The fact that it has 3 posts, 14 subscribers and was last updated 11 days ago tells you all you need to know about the success of the College’s new discussion groups.

4) I think it is praise-worthy of the College to highlight Garzon’s activities and tell us about the campus community webpage about Haiti relief. But am I the only one who finds it somewhat suspect that Williams is presuming to tell me that the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund is a good place to send donations, as opposed to the dozens (hundreds?) of other charities raising money for Haiti? Wagner should have just left that part out of the letter.

5) And, even if you think that it is appropriate for the College to specify specific charities in this context, you would want the chosen organizations to be beyond reproach, the best of the best. Here are two simple tests: First, does the charity have a long history of working in Haiti and/or places like it? Second, the charity should spend a minimal amount on fund-raising and administration (especially CEO pay). Most of the money raised should be used for, you know, doing good.

I think that one of the 4 charities listed fails both these tests. How did it end up in Wagner’s letter? Follow the sleaze . . .

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