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Pitzer's Response to Hurricane Katrina

Students in Mississippi

Pitzer’s immediate response was to open its doors to two displaced students from Xavier University: Adrienne Roberts and Danielle Salmon. Our entire community was supportive of our outreach and of the full scholarships given to these students so greatly affected by the catastrophic storm. The following letters were sent to President Laura Skandera Trombley commending the efforts by the members of the Pitzer College community on behalf of the Hurricane Katrina victims.

Dear Laura,

I find myself sitting in a small old fashioned cafe near my apartment in Buenos Aires, drinking a cup of coffee and trying to process and reflect on all of the thoughts, conversations, songs, and experiences that are constantly entering into my head on this tango adventure of mine. I have been having an enriching and amazing time here since I arrived in August and am learning so much. I have found a whole world of people who share my love of tango music and have made lasting friendships with musicians and music enthusiasts from 7 to 77! I used to worry that by studying music I would fail to concentrate on the ideals of social justice and social responsibility that were so important throughout my Pitzer education, but I find that every day I am confronted by situations and reasons to keep those ideals at the forefront of my active mind.

Springsong Cooper

I decided to write today after I was looking at the Pitzer home page and noticed the article about Pitzer’s efforts in response to Katrina. When I opened the Pitzer web page today to see the friendly, smiling faces of my fellow Pitzer students, taking their fall break to offer hard, muddy, manual labor to families and people who really need it, and then reading your statement to the community about all the efforts put forth, I was almost brought to tears I felt so proud. It was so great to see social responsibility being put into action, and to see such enthusiasm from our small community. I think sometimes we Pitzer students take the atmosphere of social responsibility for granted when we are on campus, living in the bubble of our liberal think tank, but after being dumped out into the larger reality that is the rest of the world, it becomes so much more apparent how unique the Pitzer community really is. Social responsibility is a part of what makes Pitzer special, but I think equally as important is the genuine enthusiasm one encounters on a daily basis from people in the community toward whatever it is they are passionate about. It is for this reason that mixing enthusiasm with a supportive community and a desire to be learning and putting that which we learn into action is very powerful, and is at the heart of the Pitzer spirit. It is a privilege to be able to receive this sort of an education and it is something I often think about in my research here. This type of active enthusiasm can reach as far as a tango researcher in a small cafe in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

I hope you don’t mind the lengthy letter but I really just wanted to tell you that I was touched when I saw what had been done for Katrina victims and that it reminded me how often I appreciate my education and miss the Pitzer community.

Un Abrazo de Argentina,
(sending a hug from Argentina)
Jennie Gubner ‘05

Dear Dr. Trombley,

I just read your message about helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina on the Pitzer Web site. I worked with the nine Pitzer students that made the journey from your campus to Mississippi and wanted you to know what an honor it was working along with them to help the victims of the storm. Each one of them worked extremely hard and seemed determined to help out in any way possible even going so far as to enthusiastically volunteer to perform some of the most foul jobs.

Now I am not sure if you are extremely effective at picking out excellent citizens to attend your school or you are just simply molding them once they arrive, but I can say with confidence that these are top quality people. You should be proud to have these students representing your institution. They have certainly made the name Pitzer stick in my mind as an institution of quality, excellence and achievement. I will think fondly of my experience with Adam, Daphne, Alden, Miri and the rest of the crew that worked so hard in Mississippi. I will also be on the lookout for them in the future because they are certain to achieve great things. 
Kudos to you and Pitzer for supporting their endeavor and for all that you have done for the relief effort.

Eric Feeley