Students from George Mason University are collecting money to help relief efforts in Japan following the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that hit the country on March 11. Photo from yisris’ flickr account

George Mason University has begun to coordinate its relief efforts in response to the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami, which occurred March 11, has left thousands of victims dead, injured or homeless.

In a March 14 e-mail, Vice President of University Life Sandra Scherrens, encouraged students and other members of the Mason community affected by the tragedy to seek help at the Office of University Life or Office of International Programs and Services. Students can find more information about services and appointments at

Judith Green, the director of the Office of International Programs and Services, acknowledged that, in addition to providing referrals and support, “OIPS is participating in the collection of money for the victims of the double catastrophe.”

Scherrens relayed in that e-mail that “We hope that losses of life and property, and injuries, will be limited, and that the affected areas will make a swift recovery.”
Director of Disability Services Linn Jorgenson and Program Administrator of the masters telecommunication program Toshiko Uchiyama from the telecommunications department, along with groups from Student Involvement, have formed a group they are calling “Smile for Japan.” Jorgenson, who has been involved in some fundraising efforts before in the areas of breast cancer and MS, says that they are a group of enthusiastic students, faculty and staff.

The group is still organizing and focusing their goals, but they would like to support education efforts, ideally adopting a Japanese university. Their intention is to support education in the best way they can.

According to Jorgenson, the group’s current plan is to raise money for the next year and then present the funds they collect to their chosen place or organization on the first anniversary of the event.

While they are still in the planning stages, they are considering a variety of fundraising efforts including “fun runs, bake sales, and selling bracelets.”

The group is still looking for members and Jorgenson says that they “are looking at ways to connect with anyone and everyone!”

Their next meeting will be held from 1–2 p.m. Tuesday in the second floor lounge area of Student Union Building I.

For more information on this group or how to get involved, contact Linn Jorgenson at or Toshiko Uchiyama at The group also has a Facebook page called “Mason Smiles for Japan.”

As of now, there is no word on whether Mason is planning any events similar to the relief efforts that took place during the Haiti earthquake, which included packaging meals and even rebuilding and counseling missions to Haiti from faculty and students.

Scherrens, however, is optimistic that those efforts can be matched with community support. She said, “We did a great job in rallying the community to support fundraising efforts for Haiti — I’m sure we will do the same for Japan!”