The Kalamazoo College Athletic Center and the Senior Seminar 499 “How Do We Solve a Problem Like” partnered to raise awareness and aid for the water crisis devastating the Flint, Mich. community this past week. The Kalamazoo men and women’s basketball games last Wednesday publicized Seminar 499’s ongoing initiative to collect water and present information about the Flint water crisis to K College.
“Everything’s affected by water…you think about drinking water but you don’t think about washing your hands or all the everyday things that go along with water,” said Eric Dougal, the men’s Head Basketball Coach.
The basketball teams hosted the Flint Water Benefit for their annual campus charity game. The athletic department accepted water donations and also gave the ticket gate proceeds to the water fund. They succeeded in filling an entire K College van with water to transport to Flint.
Flint is currently in a state of emergency after the city switched to using water from the polluted Flint River. Residents are advised to use filters to treat their water or have their water tested at water resource sites, according to the Detroit Free Press.
On Friday, Governor Snyder signed a bill allowing $28 million in aid to deal with the infrastructure and health problems related to the tainted water. At least 45 children of Flint have been tested with high levels of lead in their blood, and many more have likely been similarly affected.
The Athletic Department partnered with the “How Do We Solve a Problem Like” Seminar, who has dedicated their curriculum to providing aid for the Flint water crisis for the remainder of the quarter. The seminar has established numerous drop-off points for water, including locations at the Arcus Center, the Anderson Athletic Center, the Humphrey House, and the Office of Security.
“As the seminar chose to focus on the problem of the color line, the Flint crisis was brought up because certain communities are not benefitting from the aid,” Joana Garcia K’16, a seminar member, said.
“Those who are undocumented, homeless, or in minority groups without transportation to get to the water supply locations are receiving less aid than other groups,” Omari Oliver K’16, another Seminar member said.
The Seminar is working with local organizations and churches in Flint to better target these underserved populations.
“Water is a necessity and it is a human right,” Garcia added.
“The class launched a website Wednesday night to stand in solidarity with those in Flint and raised over $1,000 on the first day alone,” Oliver said.
“The class has set a goal of $10,000 to go towards not only water, but also portable washers and showers for the Flint residents,” Garcia said.
“This is an ongoing problem that we’ve been privileged to not have to focus on here,” Elizabeth Arellano K’16 of Seminar 499 said. “However, after the campus wide email last Friday the quality of water in Kalamazoo is now being called into question. K College is now being affected by tainted water and we can no longer afford to be uneducated about this issue.”
Both Seminar 499’s donation website and the campus water drive are ongoing projects. Anyone interested in donating to help those in need can click here to lend your support.