Senate to help offset costs for oversubscribed service Trek to New Orleans.
Last year, after seeing the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast, a group of HBS students became inspired to help. The resulting Student Association Hurricane Katrina Relief Committee led a group of 57 students, administrators, and faculty to New Orleans in an attempt to help the devastated region. Given the critical mission of this student-initiated venture, the Student Senate decided to contribute $2,000. The effort was a stunning success. Students on the trip submitted recommendations for spurring long-term economic growth to the Mayor’s Commission, removed debris from homes in the 9th Ward, assessed the public school system and began forging a relationship between HBS and with Dillard University.
Predictably, the Gulf Coast is still facing daunting challenges a year later. According to the New Orleans Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, fewer than half of the 485,000 residents of New Orleans Parish have returned. Further, the City of New Orleans is still struggling to recover the capacity to conduct basic operations. The New York Times reports that as many as 500 criminal defendants have been freed because of problems with evidence, including difficulty in finding witnesses who have moved away.
Seeing that there is still a need for help, students are again answering the call. The New Orleans Service Experience Immersion Trek will focus on recovery and rebuilding, real estate and redevelopment, and education. In an unprecedented grant, the Student Senate agreed to provide $4,500 to offset the cost of transportation and supplies within New Orleans. This grant represents the largest such gift by the Student Senate in recent memory.
Student Association Co-President, Justin Hu, says that the Senate wanted to support this student-run and student-planned initiative. “The Senate is honored that it will be able to donate to such a worthy cause, especially a student-led project.” The Student Senate was cognizant of the responsibility that HBS students have to the broader world and of the need to support attempts to fulfill that responsibility. “The Senate felt that it was important to support students in their attempt to have an impact. Further, the Senate was also excited that HBS students were showcasing their commitment to social enterprise to the greater business community.”
The Administration has been very supportive throughout the process and is sponsoring opening and closing dinners for the Trek. Students participating in the Trek must pay for their own expenses. While loans are available to help cover expenses, there are no grants or scholarship funds. Despite the costs, the trip is currently oversubscribed.