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Student Affairs Role in Disaster Response and Recovery

As we in the state of West Virginia learned first-hand during the historically significant flooding events of
summer 2016, natural and man-made disasters require enormous amounts of resources to be mobilized
quickly. Colleges and universities must play a major role in assisting local, state and national authorities
in this task. Our ability to mobilize resources human, physical, intellectual, and monetary make us
uniquely suited to assist in the complex task of response and recovery. In this presentation we will
discuss the most effective strategies and best practices for each of these four resources areas.

In any disaster, manpower is an important resource. As student affairs professionals, we can mobilize
resources to connect students, faculty and staff to assist in clean up, rescue, and other activities. These
can range from organizing muck-out operations in affected communities, sending volunteers to assist in
the operation of shelters, or even mobilizing students in healthcare related fields to assist in emergency

Universities also have the unique capacity to serve as central collection and distribution centers for
physical items needed in disaster recovery, such as cleaning supplies, shovels, brooms, clothing and
food, and other items as needed. In this role your own resources are important to consider, as well as
needs in the field. Some disasters may call for you to serve as a warehouse and distribution point for
supplies while others may simply require you to direct donations to various organizations or groups.

Universities and colleges are composed of experts whose diverse interests and talents can be invaluable
to communities as they transition from response to recovery. As student affairs professionals, we can
serve a conduit for the community organizations we work with to have access to the time and talent for
the broader resources of the academy.

As intuitions with large alumni networks, we can assist organizations involved in recovery and relief by
communicating where donations can be sent.