IU students doing their part to help Flint residents

For months, people throughout the country have read headline after headline about the water crisis happening in Flint, Mich.

IU's Black Graduate Student Association

IU’s Black Graduate Student Association.

But members of Indiana University’s Black Graduate Student Association didn’t simply want to read about the crisis; they wanted to do something. So with the help of the IU community, the organization is raising money to send fresh water to the residents of Flint.

“We always hear about the issues of clean water supply in many parts of the world, so to hear about this being a problem in our own backyard really hits home,” said Anthony Wright, publicist for the Black Graduate Student Association. “We encourage you to put yourselves in the shoes of the Flint residents and imagine having to drink and bathe under these unsuitable circumstances. When one group is suffering, we are all suffering.”

In April 2014, in an effort to save money, Flint switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River. However, the city did not properly treat the water, and in the fall of 2015, the water was found to have elevated levels of lead. Subsequently, hundreds of people have been identified as having elevated lead levels in their blood.

A state of emergency was declared last month and the extent of the crisis continues to make headlines. In response, people throughout the country have reached out to the residents of Flint, mainly by providing bottle water.

Fresh for FlintIU’s Black Graduate Student Association has joined those efforts by attempting to raise $3,000, which would purchase more than 38,000 bottles of water. The water would then be sent to the Boys and Girls Clubs in Flint, which will use it not only for the 140 children the clubs serve daily, but to also distribute to families.

For Alex Foster, the association’s elections and nominations chair, the problem isn’t just an issue happening in our neighboring state to the north. It’s personal.

“I was born and raised in Michigan, and my family lives just an hour south of Flint,” Foster said. “I feel a personal responsibility to both raise awareness about the issue and provide help to those who cannot access clean water. I hope this is just the beginning of our efforts to help in any way we can.”

The group will be collecting money through Feb. 6. More information and ways to donate can be found online. Members of the association are hoping that, in the face of such a tragic event, IU and the surrounding community will come together to show Flint residents IU cares.

“As an organization, we knew this was something we wanted to contribute to, and to have the support of our family members, friends and the IU community is invaluable,” Foster said. “We know that purchasing water bottles will not resolve the crisis completely, but BGSA has a responsibility to help fight the injustice Flint residents are facing.”

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