Pro Bono News

SHN-NEWS Our Continued Commitment to the Gulf Coast: Law Student Help Still Needed

Monday, September 17, 2007

  • Student Hurricane Network
  • Source: Katrina (Decommissioned)
Dear Student Hurricane Network,

As you may have noticed, our organization was conspicuously silent as the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina was marked across the country. However, we, along with all of you, are well aware that the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita did not begin and end with a single day. The effects are ongoing, still lingering in the communities the storms passed through. In acknowledgment of that, we decided to leave the one-day commemorations to those who do it best.

In August, media outlets reported from the region to discuss the second anniversary of the hurricanes while the President made his annual appearance along the Coast. At each photo-op, the President echoed the same remarks he made as he stood in Jackson Square two years ago on September 15th, 2005. Verbally, the President has sought to reassure the public that "Washington has not forgotten" the Gulf Coast community and the federal government is "still engaged." Instead of debating the accuracy of his remarks, we would like to focus on another reoccurring theme in Bush's anniversary speeches: "In the task of recovery and rebuilding, some of the hardest work is still ahead, and it will require the creative skill and generosity of a unified country."

The Student Hurricane Network would like to take this opportunity to commend all of you for making a unified effort to support the communities in the Gulf Coast during this period of rebuilding. And most of all, we would like to express our deep gratitude to all the lawyers and other activists in the Gulf Coast working every day to improve conditions. We would like to remind all those who have traveled to the region, plan to travel to the region, or volunteer to help Gulf Coast community residents from your home schools that we are not involved in providing charity to helpless individuals. Rather, we are working in solidarity with all people in the coastal region who, through self-determination, seek to revive the area and re-establish their homes.

As an entirely student-run organization, SHN has brought the passion and skills of nearly 3,000 law students to the region over the past two years. In working to educate the legal community about Katrina-related issues we are ensuring that the conversation is not merely concentrated around the "anniversary" of the disaster. Year round, we encourage ongoing dialogue that promotes a deeper social consciousness in the legal community. Over the next several months, we will be publishing information about future trips, redesigning our website (or as we like to call it, our "office"), meeting up at the Equal Justice Works conference, developing new projects and revamping old ones. To keep up to date, sign up for one of our email lists at or email us at

Remain engaged in the myriad of post-Katrina issues - plan trips to the region, work with your fellow students to create projects that can be done from home and speak to your communities about the ongoing issues facing those rebuilding. Only through consistent collective action will we reach our goals of true recovery. Through our service in the Gulf Coast, we wade into a river of justice that flows from the work of those who came before us and from which our work will flow. They worked without knowing we might be downstream; likewise, others will come after us who deserve our most careful, thoughtful commitment to making their river smoother than ours.

In solidarity,

SHN National Advisory Board

Josie Beets, Brooklyn Law 3L
Sarah Erlinder, Wisconsin Law 2L
Galen Hair, Tulane Law 2L
Annette Hollowell, Ole Miss Law 3L
Tom Nosewicz, Stanford Law 3L
Brian O'Connor, Mizzou Law 2L
Alisha Williams, Cardozo Law 2L