Help for Houston: Schools Respond to Hurricane Harvey

Amanda Kohn by on Sep 19, 2017

An estimated 500,000 college students have been impacted in some way by Hurricane Harvey, whether through cancelled classes or damage to vehicles and residences. In response, schools both within and outside of Houston are addressing their communities with resources and avenues to donate or help. The University of Houston and Rice University, two schools directly impacted by Hurricane Harvey, provided emergency alerts, temporary housing details and relief fund efforts to help affected members of their student bodies, and the Penn State Alumni Association encouraged members to donate to relief efforts.

A large banner at the top of University of Houston’s website promotes Hurricane Harvey resources and opens the school’s dedicated Hurricane Harvey Relief page, which provides a directory of resources related to the disaster’s impact on the university community and academic calendar. A Daily Updates section houses six recent updates about university status, such as the campus reopen date. The page also provides a recovery map, volunteer opportunities, ways to donate and a flood recovery checklist.

University of Houston Public Homepage Banner Image

Accessible from the Hurricane Harvey Relief page, the school’s Giving to University of Houston website also promotes Harvey-specific giving opportunities through banner images and press releases. Though UH does not have a specific fund for relief efforts, donors can contribute to the UH Cougar Emergency Fund and The Fund for UH and indicate in the comments that the gift is for Harvey-related aid.

Giving to University of Houston Homepage Banner Image

In addition, Renu Khator, president of the University of Houston, responded with a short letter, emphasizing the importance of community and offering ways to support UH community members. The letter, which was promoted with a banner image on the alumni and giving websites, also includes the president’s initial message to the UH community about campus rebuilding efforts.

University of Houston Alumni Homepage Banner Image

University of Houston President Renu Khator’s Initial Message to UH Community

Rice University houses its relief efforts and Harvey updates within its existing Rice Emergency Management website, which predominantly features Harvey-related resources and is currently promoted through a Harvey homepage notification. The bulk of the school’s current hurricane resources is found in 47 press releases, including letters from deans and presidents, campus updates, volunteer opportunities and counseling services. Most notably, four quick links on the site direct visitors to childcare and housing online forms, emergency weather resources for employees and a dedicated giving form for hurricane relief. In addition to the Rice Hurricane Relief Fund quick link, the school’s Harvey-specific fund is promoted by social media posts from the student association and a notification on the group’s homepage. The university also advertises the gift designation option within its Giving to Rice University website, but limited information about the fund is findable on the Rice University homepage and its social media pages.

Rice Emergency Management Homepage with Dedicated Relief Fund Link

Rice University Homepage Notification

The Rice Alumni homepage includes a notification about the Rice Alumni Emergency Housing Match Program, which opens a letter from Matt Haynie, president of the Association of Rice Alumni, with information for providing or seeking temporary housing along with a link to the Rice Hurricane Relief Fund giving form.

Association of Rice Alumni President Matt Haynie’s Alumni Letter with Emergency Housing Match Program Notification (Truncated)

Schools outside Texas are also encouraging their alumni and communities to help with hurricane recovery. Specifically, the Penn State University Alumni Association prompts alumni to support Texas and Louisiana residents by donating to the Red Cross and other organizations. A new Help for Houston page, accessible from an alumni homepage banner image, provides organization suggestions along with text message keywords for donating to the Red Cross and United Way.

Penn State Alumni Association Homepage Banner Image

In addition to educating students on academic subjects, colleges and universities teach students holistically, setting the tone for how they navigate their post-college worlds. Following natural disasters, university community members, particularly current students, look to their schools to set the tone for their response. Messages encouraging support of affected communities and providing actionable help position schools as leaders not only in the field of education but also in the realm of social good.

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About The Author

Amanda Kohn

Amanda is a Senior Research Associate for Alumni Monitor at Corporate Insight. Read more