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Sunday, June 23, 2024
The Observer

Dear Notre Dame:

You do not stand in solidarity with those affected by natural disasters. On Sept. 20, Puerto Rico was hit with one of the most devastating hurricanes in the island’s history, Hurricane Maria. The scene that followed was horrific. Houses ceased to exist, families lost everything, and chaos ensued in the streets after 100 percent of the island’s electrical grid was down. The once green and tropical island was now seen as a speck of mud and destruction from space. The University of Notre Dame has more than 34 graduate and undergraduate Puerto Rican students studying on campus at the moment. Notre Dame’s efforts in aiding the students affected by this disaster have been pathetic and the lack of action disgusts me. Puerto Rican students found themselves not being able to contact their families more than 10 days into the disaster. Not once were we contacted by University officials to assess our situation. The psychological toll a situation like this presented required direct attention from the University. Like many of my Puerto Rican classmates, I faced the struggle of not knowing whether my family was safe alone. I spent two weeks not knowing anything about my family, and, when I did, the news was depressing. Part of my home had been destroyed. The roof of my house had collapsed. My family had to sleep in the dark. My family struggled to find a continuous supply of clean water and food. After three weeks had passed, I received an email from the Office of Financial Aid informing me that my package had been modified. I was shocked to see that my past scholarship amount had been modified with the inclusion of a “Puerto Rico Scholarship.” I was happy to see this at first, but, after comparing the past scholarship statement with this one, I noticed that this scholarship amount was deducted from my past “University Scholarship.” My financial aid had not changed. The title of the scholarships had changed. This deceptive act enraged me. The only on-campus people that have majorly contributed to this natural disaster are the Puerto Ricans themselves. It was us who set up donation boxes. It was us who went back to our island during Fall Break just to see how our family members were doing. It was us who had to deal with our emotions about our homes being destroyed. It was us that spent countless nights without sleep having to worry about what would happen in our island tomorrow. Where was the University when we needed it the most? Where was that sense of community when we spent our nights alone, worrying about what our families had to endure? Where was the love and compassion we needed? The ignorance and lack of action on this matter disturbs me.

Federico G. Hita


Nov. 12


The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.