We all have a responsibility to help Tuscaloosa

Our View

Students returning for summer classes this week will find a community still very much in need of their service and support. Over a month after a tornado ravaged much of Tuscaloosa, it is important that our student body continue to maintain the remarkable spirit of volunteerism and generosity we saw after the spring semester came to an abrupt end in April.

As UA students, all of us depend on the community of Tuscaloosa. Yet, too often, we see the University as something separate from the broader Tuscaloosa area. We are less citizens than transient residents, here temporarily to accomplish our own goals and objectives before we depart into the larger world.

Over the past five weeks, that has changed. We have seen first hand the suffering and loss felt by our neighbors in the community and our fellow students. We have seen our fates linked to people we never before knew or hoped to know. And we have seen our own students respond to the need for unity and engagement in this community in an unprecedented fashion.

This sense of compassion and civic responsibility has flowed naturally from our student body; we must make sure it is now embodied into the fabric and purpose of our University.

Everyone can take part in the recovery. There is a need for a diverse array of talents, from communications students working for FEMA to crews clearing debris with chainsaws. In order for us to be able to channel our different capabilities productively into the relief effort, the University itself has an important role to play in engaging students through long-term, campus-wide relief programs.

Before April 27, it was easy for UA students to exist in a cultural bubble that mostly ignored the greater Tuscaloosa community. The Crimson White was no exception. However, an academic year that began with a strengthened editorial focus on campus-specific news ended with reporters and editors venturing into parts of Tuscaloosa they had never seen to recount tales of great loss and destruction. Going forward, The CW will remain committed to tornado recovery coverage, documenting how those with power are using their resources to aid those left with nothing.

Just as we now have a responsibility to serve the city, we also have a chance to unite as students. The student response so far has been incredible, but we can still grow and learn from the recovery effort. On a campus infamous for deep divides, this is our opportunity to show the world, and ourselves, that tragedy can change us and make us stronger, that we are willing to come together in service for the sake of our community, and that we are capable of finding a greater purpose in the rubble of this terrible disaster. Innocent, unsuspecting students died in the tornado; it is now our task to honor their sacrifice by finding meaning in our loss.

If we grow out of this as a more unified student body and a more committed citizenry, hopefully one day what we all now view as a terrible tragedy will be seen instead as a time of tremendous growth and renewal.

 

Our View is the consensus of The Crimson White editorial board.

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