In the coming days, football is not the only arena in which Yale and Harvard will go head to head.
The Harvard-Yale Ebola Challenge, a joint initiative between the schools to raise funds for and awareness of Ebola, officially kicked off yesterday with the support of Mayor Toni Harp and Dean of the Yale School of Public Health Paul Cleary. Both spoke at a press conference in City Hall to tout the fundraising effort. At least five undergraduate organizations across both universities are spearheading fundraising for the challenge, which, to date, has raised over $8,000. Both schools have until the day of The Game, which is this Saturday, to raise as much money as they can. Yale is currently leading by $8,000.
“We share great concern about the current global health crisis and a commitment to fight that crisis,” Harp said in City Hall Wednesday morning.
The announcement comes two weeks after Harp initiated her “Citizens to Drive Out Ebola” campaign, the goal of which is to send four vans and medical supplies to address the epidemic in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone and New Haven’s sister city. The campaign is being organized by city officials in conjunction with a coalition of New Haven community organizations. Fifty percent of the money raised through the Harvard-Yale Challenge will be donated to the Harp’s campaign, Yale UNICEF board member Sarah Merchant ’17 said. The other 50 percent of funds will be given to Partners in Health and UNICEF, two organizations that have been working to address the epidemic in West Africa.
Cleary said that the partnership between the city and University — in which the mayor promotes a Yale initiative, half of whose funds will go back to a city initiative — is an example of how both entities can work together to address public health issues.
Currently, there are four different undergraduate organizations at Yale that are organizing the fundraising: Yale Partners in Health Engage, Yale UNICEF, Yale Rotaract Club and the Yale Public Health Coalition. Banding together gave the initiative more cohesion and made it easier to coordinate events, said Patrick Ng ’16, co-president of both Partners in Health Engage and Public Health Coalition.
Current fundraising events include campus-wide penny wars as a competition between the 12 residential colleges and ticket sales to Toad’s Place. Wall Street Pizza will also be donating part of its revenue to the Challenge.
“Students on campus frequently call Yale a bubble, and I think it’s up to our own initiative to pop that bubble and understand and react to the problems affecting the world outside of our campus,” said Yale Rotaract Club board member Krishnan Srinivasan ’17.
Coalition members made clear that fundraising efforts will continue even after The Game. Although it will not necessarily be in a context of intercollegiate rivalry, fundraising for Ebola should not stop, said Neha Anand ’17, co-president of Partners in Health and board member of UNICEF.
Harp agreed, adding that she hopes this initiative will challenge other cities to do the same.
“The Harvard-Yale Ebola Campaign is not only a challenge between our schools, but a challenge to other institutions around the nation,” Merchant said. “It is important for other institutions and cities to get involved.”