The Rutgers Community has suffered greatly during Hurricane Sandy and the remnants of the storm still remind us of those we have lost and that which has been taken from us. In this time of great adversity, a point of personal pride for me is the manner in which students, staff, and administration came together to make the best of a tragic situation. After the storm had cleared, it became overwhelmingly apparent that the considerable damage had been done, and that both the students and New Brunswick residents had suffered greatly.
The university response was immediate, with student leaders and administrators rushing to help students cope with the disaster and to provide those who were unable to stay in their homes shelter. Even today, on the steps of Brower Commons, student groups actively table to raise funds to help with the relief effort. Collections for donations have taken place throughout the week and into the immediate future allowing every Rutgers Student to do their part in helping those in need.
The concept of servant leadership has been in the forefront during the efforts following the storm. The importance of giving back to the community and working to ensure you as a leader are doing everything in your power to help those who are in need. Student leaders had to make decisions that would have very real consequences for not only their organizations but more importantly the well-being of their fellow students. Each organization contributed something that highlighted their unique set of skills, whether it be utilizing their long established marketing infrastructure to spread pressing news and updates or capitalizing on their relationships with administrators to have the Rutgers Student Center running for several days consecutively. As each organization worked to identify what students concerns were and how to alleviate them, the campus began to spark back to life as more and more students returned to find a campus ready to welcome them back.
While working independently could potentially bring results, a wide range of organizations choose to collaborate together to do their best to help the community. When the hurricane hit many students lost power and their food was ruined, as cleanup efforts were underway access to food stores was limited. The Rutgers University Student Assembly, Student Volunteer Council, Off-Campus Student Association, and many others worked together to ensure that students would not go hungry, by hosting a dinner open to all students affected by the storm. The value of teamwork and coalition building was clearly demonstrated, as each group supported one another to ensure that their efforts to help people would be as effective as possible. Although the storm has passed, the bonds and relationships that were made will not. The Rutgers University community came together in a time of hardship and we are all better for it.