Photo Illustration by Peter Caty

Four Fairfield students who were in Haiti when the 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Tuesday are safe, according to the University.

The students, Francesca LeGros ‘10, Tara Buteau ‘10, Anne-sophie Janvier, and Lisa Haylon ‘10, were contacted through a variety of means.  Professor Gisela Gil-Egui was the first who was able to make contact with any of the students, with LeGros through Facebook.

“I was able to connect with the other three through information supplied to me by a friend of theirs who lives in the United States,” said Dean of Students Tom Pellegrino.

The students are focusing on getting a flight back to the United States from the Santiago airport in the Dominican Republic, according to Pellegrino.

There were no service trips or other University-related activities to Haiti at the time of the earthquake, although Haiti is one of the most common destinations for service trips through campus ministry. Contact was made with the students mainly through e-mail, and University representatives have had communication with the students’ families as well.

Some alumni of the University reside or work in Haiti, including several Fairfield students and family members of the students and staff in Haiti.

“We will continue to do all that we can to inquire about the well-being of any other members of our community,” said President Jeffrey von Arx in a University message.

“There are of course others in our community (students, faculty and staff) who were not present but who have family and friends there,” Pellegrino added.

“There is still much we do not know,” he said.

Students are already responding to the crisis. The Fairfield for Haiti group will be holding a forum on Wednesday, Jan. 20, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. to develop ideas for fund-raising. The location is to be announced.

John Sullivan ‘13, who is part of the group and has worked in the Hopital Sacre Coeur, a hospital that provides free health care to everyone in Milot, Haiti, hopes that Fairfield will step up to the plate to help Haitians.

“Now, from what I’ve heard from my contacts in Haiti is that the hospital is flooded with people. They’ve set up tents outside to assist people and are doing the best they can to help everybody,” he said.

“Fairfield needs to help Hopital Sacre Coeur and the rest of Haiti out during this time.”

Melissa Quan, Director of Service Learning at Fairfield, will be coordinating efforts with the Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network (JUHAN) to decide how Fairfield can respond to the crisis, short-term and long-term.

“Specific to the crises in Haiti, the JUHAN student leadership team will be meeting this afternoon to begin organizing and brainstorming specific actions,” she said.

“We encourage students and student groups wishing to be involved in spearheading efforts to contact the JUHAN student leadership team to share information and ideas.”

“I think that it is important for us to recognize this as a long-term need. When the news subsides, the challenges will still be there and we need to make a long term commitment,” added Quan.

The University is planning on a special dinner (through the campus dining services) for Tuesday, Jan. 26th or Thursday, Jan. 28th where they will ask for a donation of $5 for Haiti Relief.
The Ignatian and Service for Justice (formerly Just-Us) Residential Colleges are also planning on a “Bottle and Can drive”  for the entire University Community for Super Bowl Sunday.

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