Silliman University has already initiated the process of identifying and qualifying students from areas that have been badly affected by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Bohol and super typhoon Yolanda. The process forms part of our immediate measures to respond to these two calamities that came one immediately after the other, and which affected communities and families of many of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. In addition to these measures, recognizing that severe storms, earthquakes from many heretofore unidentified fault lines, and low capacities to respond to distresses from calamities may now be a “new normal” that we need to prepare for adequately, Silliman seeks to improve on our ability to protect the University from disasters and respond to distresses due to disasters.

Alumni and friends continue to respond to the call for donations towards the “Continuing Calamity Response Program” which, among the measures we are taking, is to extend temporary financial relief in the form of partial or full discounts on tuition, fees, or on-campus board and lodging strictly calibrated on a “needs” basis. Assistance under the program has been broken down according to the magnitude of need brought about by the devastation. The temporary nature of these reliefs is based on (1) our Board of Trustees reviewing and approving the use of University resources to fund these reliefs, and (2) how much direct aid for affected students we receive from alumni and friends.

The Office of Student Services has developed a set of guidelines for presentation to the Board of Trustees during its regular meeting on November 30, 2013. The guidelines contain the criteria for qualifying differently affected students for different scales or levels of financial relief and aid for them to continue with their studies in Silliman.

We have 105 students from Bohol now enrolled in Silliman. There are 92 students from Leyte and Samar. They include ministry students in part supported by UCCP churches that have been hit by the two calamities in Bohol, Leyte and Samar. They also include 12 transferees from Leyte accommodated into the School of Basic Education and in college following their evacuation to Dumaguete following the super typhoon.

Meanwhile, we shall soonest start beefing up our capacities in Silliman to be readily able to help when disaster strikes (including sending material relief, psychosocial and technical assistance teams to affected areas) and also fortify our University from disasters.

We call for help on these measures we are taking, so that we can help more.