OU raises over $19,000 for Bahamas hurricane relief


Sergio Montanez

OU students donate to the Hurricane Dorian Relief Fund in the Oakland Center on Thursday, Sept. 12.

First came the storm. Then came the flood.

On the night of  Tuesday, Sept. 3, Hurricane Dorian rocked into the Bahamas. Destruction followed in the Category 5 storm’s wake, leveling and flooding the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco Island.

Among the hundreds of thousands affected were the University of the Bahamas (UoB) and its 600 registered students at its Grand Bahama campus. UoB put out a call for help to other higher learning institutions — a call Oakland University President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz heard loud and clear. Wanting to help a fellow institution and Association of Governing Board of Universities and Colleges member, President Pescovitz made plans for action.

“There was a conversation with two vice presidents wanting to know if OU students were doing anything,” said Jean Ann Miller, senior director of the Office for Student Involvement (OSI). “At that time, there were not, but the president really wanted to fundraise to UoB.”

The result was Dollars for Dorian, a fundraising campaign to aid the hurricane-racked UoB. Announced via a Sept. 10 “President’s Perspective” email, Pescovitz informed the OU community of the fundraiser’s details: the drive would be active for 24 hours on Thursday, Sept. 12. Tabling would take place in the Oakland Center from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. while online donations would be accepted through the “Grow Oakland” crowdfunding platform. Two more tables would be set up by Housing in the Hillcrest and Vandenberg residence halls. 

Pescovitz would not simply sit and watch as the university she captains raised funds, stating in her email, “The Office of the President will contribute matching funds up to $5,000 of the amount raised by the OU community. In addition, I will personally contribute up to another $5,000.”

Her goal was simple: mobilize one academic community to the benefit of another. The result was a snowball of generosity collecting more and more as the days rolled on.

“Any amount is better than no amount,” OU Student Congress Vice President Julia Alexander said, urging the involuntarily thrifty college students to donate spare change if they could.

Chartwells also added $1 and $5 donation options to cash registers across campus. The athletics department pledged all tickets sales from the Sept. 14 women’s volleyball and men’s soccer matches.

Even the non-academic branches of OU’s community stepped in. The historic Meadow Brook Hall pledged 50% of all revenue from Sept. 12 tours to the fundraiser. The OU Police Department turned minor infractions into meaningful donations with a cool $387.55 from parking tickets and parking meters going to the drive. The Golf and Learning Center chipped in $383 thanks to its own $1-per-round fundraising. 

By the end of the day over $9,000 was raised across the campus community, triggering the extra combined $10,000 from Pescovitz and the President’s office. In total, OU raised $19,307.05, including the matching funds from Pescovitz and the Office of the President.