The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday January 15th

NC State students start tornado aid initiative

N.C. State University’s student leaders are responding quickly to help those affected by Saturday’s tornadoes.

Students met Monday night to discuss ways to support the Raleigh area — including Shaw University and St. Augustine’s College — through fundraising and volunteering.

Tornado damage forced Shaw to close for the remainder of the semester, and St. Augustine’s canceled its Monday classes.

“This is really like a shock to the whole downtown Raleigh area,” said LaMarcus Davis, business manager for Shaw’s student government association.

N.C. State students said they want the initiative, which is called Universities United: Supporting our State, to eventually provide aid across the state and encourage other universities to do the same.

“We definitely want to empower students to be their own advocates for change,” said Ethan Harrelson, president of N.C. State’s student senate.

“Because it’s so close to home, a lot of students are looking to support the community,” he said. “It should be our responsibility as the UNC system to support the community.”

Harrelson and N.C. State Student Body President-elect Chandler Thompson said student volunteers will participate in a WRAL telethon today and a clean-up day on Shaw’s campus Thursday.

The initiative will also launch a fundraising drive with hopes of raising $10,000 by the end of the semester.

“We’re really looking to help out the community around us,” Thompson said. “Where they have needs, we’re looking to help.”

She said the university is considering the possibility of providing housing on its campus for Shaw students who need to stay in the area until the end of the semester.

But foreign students, who would be the ones to have trouble finding housing, will probably be able to stay with university advisers, Davis said.

“The majority of the campus has cleaned out,” he said.

Students must leave the campus by the end of the week, Davis said.

Harrelson said the Universities United initiative will continue into the fall, and it might include larger events, such as concerts.

“It’s definitely going to be an issue that’s going to take some time to fix,” he said.

UNC Association of Student Governments President Atul Bhula said he is not planning on facilitating a systemwide relief effort, but he will talk with campus student body presidents this week and encourage them to get their schools involved in individual outreach.

Bhula said he wants to help those affected by the tornadoes as much as possible.

“I’ve witnessed the damage personally, and I know that it’s pretty bad out there,” he said. “It’s really impacted the universities and the students themselves, too.”

Davis said he appreciates the outside support.

“I’m really loving it,” he said. “That really shows that it doesn’t matter which institution you go to — you’re always going to have someone to help you.”

Contact the State & National Editor at state@dailytarheel.com.

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