The earthquakes that hit Nepal should be no mystery to anybody at this point. At April 25 11:56 a.m. local time, Nepal was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that is currently calculated to have claimed at least 7,000 lives, with the death toll still being calculated as rescue efforts continue.
This earthquake should matter to the students of UCR and every UC twofold, as it is time for us as a campus that regularly shows a remarkable level of apathy to step up and help those in need and also because we, as Californians, should be aware that the threat of a massive earthquake is very real when living so close to the San Andreas fault.
UCR should move beyond billing ourselves as the most diverse campus in terms of populace, and embrace the concept of being the most diverse campus in terms of purpose as well. We attend college to make a difference, whether that be in our own futures or that of our family. However, it is at times like these that the altruistic spirit of change must really shine through.
Acts of charity can already be seen throughout campus, as the candlelight vigil organized around the flagpole next to Hinderaker Hall occurred on April 30. While not only a nice sentiment to send our thoughts to those in Nepal, the event also had a donation box to help continue the rescue efforts.
The efforts cannot end here though, as it falls upon the rest of us to do our own parts in helping the Nepalese people. Individual student orgs and clubs already have a leg up in this regard, as they already have an infrastructure with which to fundraise and collect donations. Use these groups to spread the word, making sure that as many people as possible are kept up to date about the ongoing need for assistance.
Additionally, we cannot allow ourselves to fall into apathy if the news coverage of Nepal stops flowing into our newsfeeds. Recent studies have shown that the amount of domestic media coverage can be linked to the amount of aid supplied abroad. Just because American media sources may choose to focus elsewhere in the world to keep their viewers interested, the efforts to recover in wake of the earthquake will continue.
Another way to aid Nepal could even be tied into seeing how well-prepared we actually are for a high-magnitude earthquake in California. Along with the other classes offered at the Student Recreation Center (SRC), a new class dedicated to showing students how to handle themselves during, and in the aftermath of, a massive earthquake could only benefit us. Moreover, while this class should be free to promote more participation, encouraging students to donate to the Nepalese relief effort at the beginning of each class could make it so that charity comes to the aid of ourselves and others as well.
To this point, we must ask ourselves how well-prepared we really are to contend with an earthquake of the same magnitude that affected Nepal.
There is no doubt that California as a more developed region than Nepal is more structurally prepared, and it appears that this is responsible for many of the casualties that the country suffered. Californians already have an advantage in staying safe in the impending San Andreas earthquake, so all that remains is to ready the people who live here in the same way that the buildings are.
UCR professor David Oglesby recently stated in an interview with CBS News 3 that, “While it’s true our building standards are such that we wouldn’t expect the same degree of devastation, an earthquake that size is something to be reckoned with no matter where you live or how advanced your building techniques are.”
Considering Professor Oglesby’s statement, we need to begin wondering how prepared we are should an actual earthquake of the magnitude that hit Nepal hit California as well.
For those of us who live in the dorms and the apartments around campus, how well do we know the procedures of evacuation without our RA’s right there walking us through them?
Aside from student participation, it would also behoove the school to better prepare these structures in the event of a large natural disaster of any sort. Every fall, students have been made to run through the earthquake safety drills where the professor informs the class of seismic safety procedures. Some professors instead tell their classes that the content they are covering is more important than the drill, and continue on with the lecture.
To combat this, UCR should implement a series of drills that occur throughout the year, employing the fire marshall to visit random classrooms throughout the drill’s duration. Doing this would not only increase students’ awareness of earthquake safety protocol, but also keep professors from overlooking the potentially life-saving exercise.
Outside of the influence of the school, the Highlander urges students to be aware of the threat that living next to a fault line represents, and be aware of the steps you can take to prepare for in the event of an earthquake and in its wake. Keep an emergency kit in your home, know the safest places to stay during the quake itself and organize a domestic evacuation plan with your family and friends.
We would also like to encourage students to continue aid for Nepal. As the news cycle may soon leave them behind in favor of the next big story, we hope your thoughts and assistance will not. To further help the people of Nepal, you may donate to UNICEF (http://www.unicef.org/) and Global Giving (http://www.globalgiving.org/), both of whom have proven that they are accountable and transparent with the use of their monies, and both of whom can give the largest margin of aid possible to the cause of Nepalese relief.