The University will establish a fund for relief efforts in Japan following Friday's earthquake and tsunami, President Ruth Simmons announced in an e-mail to the Brown community yesterday afternoon. A committee also met yesterday to discuss contingency plans for students studying abroad or planning to study abroad in Japan this semester and will continue to watch the situation as it develops, according to Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron.
The University's response to the disaster will include leading fundraising efforts, lending support to universities in Japan and soliciting student suggestions for innovative ways to provide assistance, Simmons wrote.
"This is consistent with the approach we took after Katrina," Simmons wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. "The community is invited to help devise approaches that are uniquely representative of Brown." She added that the fund will come from University resources as a way to generate donations.
The Japanese Cultural Association will also throw a relief concert to raise money this Sunday, which will feature student performers, a capella groups and the Brown Jazz Band. Simmons will match the donations if the event raises at least $2,000, said Rie Yamamato '12, one of the association's co-presidents.
"The tragic aftermath of the earthquake in Japan demands that the University respond in a concerted and careful way with humanitarian assistance," Simmons wrote in the e-mail.
Students participating in study abroad programs in Japan this semester may have to find alternative plans.
The study abroad program at the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies will be halted by next week, wrote Helen Diagama '12, one of three Brown students participating in the program, in an e-mail to The Herald. The program is currently examining different options available to the students and should be able to provide more information shortly, Bergeron wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. Though Kyoto was not directly impacted by the earthquake and tsunami, the state department began issuing warnings encouraging the evacuation of Americans from Japan yesterday. "The state department strongly urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to Japan at this time and those in Japan should consider departing," the travel warning read.
"This is very sad for us, since we do feel safe and don't want to leave, so most students are protesting," Diagama wrote.
Jack Boeglin'12, who planned to study at Keio University in Tokyo, said he has not received additional information since first learning that orientation for his program would be delayed until April 4. "Local and international authorities continue to state how difficult it is to gauge the level of risk accurately," Bergeron wrote in the e-mail. "We continue to monitor the situation closely, consult with our partners and peer institutions, consider the best options and communicate with the affected students and families. We expect to have more news by this weekend."
Yamamato said the association has been in touch with both undergraduates and graduate Japanese students who have family in Tokyo. Yamamato said her friends have described the situation as reminiscent of "wartime," as Japanese citizens are being forced to ration food and water and planned power outages are blanketing the city in an effort to conserve energy.
"The whole nation right now is uncertain," Yamamato said. Everyone is now asking "how safe is it to be in Japan?"