Public Affairs

Lending a Hand to Japan

March 24, 2011
By Elizabeth Chapin

The devastation in Japan prompted a grassroots fundraising campaign at Sonoma State.CSUs are reaching out to the Japanese people following the country’s devastating 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami on Mar. 11 that also damaged the Fukushima nuclear plant. Campus community members were quick to raise funds and reach out to Japanese students affected by the disaster.

CSU faculty also provided expertise – in the form of aid, advice and analysis – to benefit both Japan and California. For example, San Francisco State Associate Professor of Engineering Elahe Enssane is currently advising the Japanese government. Additionally, a team of experts will address the SF State community on April 18th, the anniversary of San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake, on the latest findings about the earthquake, tsunami, rebuilding efforts and radiation effects. Humboldt State Professor Lori Dengler has shared her expertise in earthquakes and tsunamis and San Diego State Professor Murrey Jennex assisted the local community by helping to track radiation levels with an air quality monitor. Although all data show that harmful radiation won’t reach California, the nuclear emergency in Japan also raised interesting questions addressed by faculty. For example, the Meteorology and Climate Science Department at San José State tracked weather patterns over the Pacific following the release of radiation.

Following the disaster, student groups on campuses led efforts to raise funds for Japanese aid. Japanese students at Fresno State, Cal State Northridge, and CSU Monterey Bay grouped together to collect donations. CSUN students also wrote messages for the earthquake victims – and plan to share them via social media. Students at Sonoma State are also using social networking as a tool to raise money. The students organized "Hands for Japan," a grassroots fundraising group that already has a presence on Facebook - and already raised hundreds of dollars for the Red Cross.

In addition, a group of CSU Fullerton graduates is planning to hold a fundraiser in the Orange County area following the success of their last effort. While seniors at CSUF, the trio of communications majors held a fundraiser for victims of the hurricane in Haiti, raising over $2,000.

Cal Poly Pomona also developed an easy way for its community to support the relief efforts – the Cal Poly Federal Credit Union at the Bronco Student Center is accepting funds in a special account to aid Japanese relief efforts

Students at Cal State Long Beach and Dominguez Hills are raising funds and lifting spirits in a unique way: by making origami cranes, which are symbolic of world peace, healing and hope. The Office of Student Life at CSUDH hopes to make 2,000 cranes and send them to Japan, and the Nikkei Student Union at CSULB has raised hundreds of dollars in aid by selling the paper cranes.

Campuses with large Japanese student populations, including Chico State, San Francisco State and Sacramento State, are reaching out to exchange students – providing them with resources, counseling, and assistance to assure the safety of loved ones.

“Sacramento State has very close ties to Japan,” noted university president Alexander Gonzalez in a message to the Sac State community, “I join everyone who is keeping our friends and loved ones across the Pacific in their thoughts and prayers.”