With over half of Bowdoin's students from New England and only a handful from the Katrina-stricken regions of the south, it's not easy for the student body to directly relate to the devastation. With the exception of rising gas prices, life in Brunswick is largely unaffected. Amidst the frenzied pace that accompanies the start of each year at Bowdoin, students are not dedicating the time or energy necessary to contemplate the complete magnitude of the destruction on the Gulf Coast.

We watched Katrina slowly arrive, destroy, and dissipate as a mere graphic on a newscaster's map. Then only gradually did we discover the enormity of the ruin left in its path. It came without the shock of the 9/11 tragedy that jolted every American citizen from Maine to California into instant awareness, solidarity, and action.

Imagine for a moment that instead of New Orleans, it was Boston underwater. Imagine that public officials were speculating on the possibility that thousands of Bostonians had perished throughout the disaster. Imagine that it was a large number of Bowdoin students who had lost the house they grew up in and had no idea where their parents were. Imagine that it happened to us.

But it did happen to us. It happened to our American brothers and sisters. Even though Katrina destroyed homes and families over 1,500 miles away, we all must recognize our responsibility to respond to this American challenge. And unless we all allow ourselves the time to reflect upon the impact of this disaster, and consider carefully what it will mean in terms of loss and casualty, our response will be lethargic and shamefully insufficient.

It is vital that the country's elite educational institutions like Bowdoin not shirk their obligation to assist, especially in light of revelations that the government response on all levels was tremendously inadequate. Therefore, we praise the College in its decision to donate $30,000 to three universities damaged by Hurricane Katrina to aid each in its daunting recovery.

But perhaps the greatest potential for aid will come not from the administration, but from Bowdoin's students?be it as financial donors, grassroots volunteers, or as scholars thinking analytically about the scientific, social, and political implications of the hurricane. Students have an overwhelming moral responsibility to be actively involved in the healing process for the common good of the country.

Editorials represent a majority view of The Bowdoin Orient's editorial board. The editorial board consists of the editors-in-chief and the managing editor.