Professor bares feet for Haiti while campus gets going with relief efforts

By Matthew Boyle |
Photo of Tracey Eaton by David Castagno
All other photos by Matthew Boyle

Two weeks have passed since Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake but a Flagler College professor is doing his best to keep the issue fresh in students’ minds — or at least their noses.

Tracey Eaton, an assistant professor of communication, taught his classes on Monday and Tuesday barefoot.

Eaton, who is known throughout Flagler’s Communication department for his investigative journalism in Latin America, printed his own T-shirts emblazoned with his new message: Teach Barefoot for Haiti.

He expects students to ask why he’s teaching barefoot and he’ll tell them it’s for Haiti.

“I’d rather see people say ‘there’s another nutty professor walking around barefoot’ and see another 50 bucks go to Haiti than do nothing,” Eaton said. “I wanted people to know this is something I care about.”

On Tuesday, Jan. 26, Flagler held a “Haiti Vigil” in Ponce Hall’s Rotunda hosted by Director of Activities Kristin Nelson, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Yvan Kelly and Assistant Professor of History Dr. Wayne Riggs.

Kelly read a prayer he wrote specifically for the vigil followed by a candle-lighting ceremony and a moment of silence.

“What took moments to destroy will take years to rebuild,” Kelly said.

At the end of the Haiti Vigil, Nelson said students are able donate to the American Red Cross in $10 increments by sending “Haiti” via text message to 90999. She said cash donations will be accepted and that canned food and supply donation boxes are available around the campus.

Nelson also said upcoming student programs and events will be geared toward Haiti relief support. For instance, Phi Alpha Omega’s “Bachelor Bid,” she said, will be focused on raising funds for Haitian relief.

Also on Tuesday evening, Campus Activities Board teamed with several local musicians to put on a benefit concert to raise money and awareness for Haiti relief.

Solo artists Emily Ward and Josh Santos opened up “Bands On The Lawn” for local bands Waiting On Brian and General Southern.

Strategically placed on the middle of the stage surrounded by decorative lights sat a green box with a hand-written sign that said: Please Give! Donations for Haiti! Anything Appreciated!

“We’re asking for dimes, nickels, change, anything people can [give],” Thu Doan, manager of Waiting On Brian, said.

Between songs, the artists called for donations from the approximately 50-person crowd on the West Lawn. After Waiting On Brian’s set, it sold its CDs for $1 and donated all sales to the cause.

“I think it’s a great way of using our talents to help the cause,” Ward said. “Obviously, we can’t be in Haiti right now but we can still help from here.”

Freshman Kadey Perlin donated a wallet’s worth of change. “I think everyone should [donate],” she said. “They need our help. I just took the change out of my wallet.”

Doan said cash donations totaled $84, not counting the tons of change donated. She estimates that the change will bring the total to around $100.

After two weeks of worldwide relief effort, Eaton said he’s impressed with Americans’ generosity. He thinks it’s frightening, though, how close to St. Augustine the tragedy actually was.

“This is the western hemisphere,” Eaton said. “It’s not that far from us. It’s closer than Wichita, Kan.”

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