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Student Hurricane Network

Law students working for justice in the Gulf Coast

Welcome to the Student Hurricane Network

SHN Reunion September 2010!

Dear SHN alums,

Planning continues for theSHN reunion, which will coincide with the National Lawyers Guild Convention in New Orleans, September 22-26, 2010. Below is more information on a number of events in the works, with more information to be supplemented as it is known.

The convention will also mark the kick-off of the Gulf Coast Working Group within the NLG. The Gulf Coast Working Group will hold its first meeting over the weekend and will be open to all interested NLG members. The Group will monitor and address the immediate oil spill recovery and continuing Katrina recovery as well as issues of systemic injustice in the region. We will also introduce a resolution reaffirming the NLG's commitment to the Gulf Coast Region. Please let us know if you're planning to attend any SHN events, by emailing

Please join us in New Orleans!

Friday, September 24, 7:30pm:
Come early to Allways Lounge (2240 St. Claude Ave) to catch up with SHNers-- then stay for the NLG Student Party starting at 9pm. Free for NLG members, $5 for non-members.

Saturday, September 25, 3:15-4:45pm:
Workshop: Volunteer Spirit in the Face of Disaster: Lessons Learned by Legal Responders in the Gulf Coast. SHN alums and advocates discuss the impact of SHN's work and its application to current and future crises. Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal St.

Sunday, September 26, 10:30am-1pm:
New Orleans Solidarity Tour: The New Orleans Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild is pleased to host a Solidarity Tour of New Orleans as a major panel at this year's convention. Don't miss this special opportunity to get an inside look at local life post-Katrina. The tour will be lead by local community activists and will tour major levee breaches from the 9th Ward to Lakeview. We will hear from community leaders at the forefront of the struggles to save public housing and re-open the city's largest public medical facility, Charity Hospital. (there is a $20 fee for the tour to cover the cost of the buses, you must sign up in advance with convention registration at to participate.)

Sunday September 26, 2pm:
Join SHN folks for casual conversation, hanging out and snacks, location to be announced.

Email with questions.

Updated 8/12/2010

SHN Dissolution Announcement

Dear Student Hurricane Network and Partners,

Thank you all for your tremendous and continuous work in helping in the rebuilding and revitalizing of communities in Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi. Since December of 2005, over 5500 of us have traveled to the Gulf Coast to volunteer. In the beginning, we gutted homes and cleared rubble. We interviewed incarcerated men and women who had slipped through the cracks and had been left in wait for months to speak to a lawyer. We asked FEMA Trailer Park residents to tell us what would most help them. We strengthened and bolstered the efforts of our community partners who have been doing heroic work day in and day out for three and a half years.

As the years passed, we continued to flock to the region to do what needed to be done. Community members often remarked that we were often one of few indications that the whole country has not forgotten the Gulf Coast. We have been a huge and impressive student movement, the kind some folks would like to tell us is a thing of the past. Thank you. Thank you for stepping in and stepping up and making Student Hurricane Network an organization we should all be proud to be involved in. Thank you for being great friends and people we are honored to know.

After much thought and discussion, the National Advisory Board has decided that the Student Hurricane Network will cease to operate. While the needs SHN was created to address remain, we believe the organization has grown beyond its original purpose. The needs on the ground have changed radically over the past three and a half years. There remains virtually unlimited need for long-term work advancing social justice, but less demand for the large-scale, centrally- administered student trips that have been the hallmark of SHN's activities over the past 4 years. While SHN will no longer administer student trips, we encourage students, schools and individuals to continue to develop projects and trips that address the current needs in the area.

The dissolution of the Student Hurricane Network in no way means our work in the Gulf Coast is complete. Our fight for justice and equality continues.

As a board, we hope all of us will carry our experiences with SHN in to the future. This may mean future trips to the region, it may mean expressing what we have seen in the Gulf Coast through the democratic process, it may mean integrating social justice into our practice of law.

The Student Hurricane Network's website, **, will continue to exist in order to provide useful tools in trip planning, organizational contact information, and as a forum for contacting other students who plan to volunteer. We anticipate that there may be a number of questions about this decision and what the future will look like for student volunteers in the region. Please look to the Frequently Asked Questions below, updated to reflect questions posed during a membership call after the dissolution was announced.

This decision came neither easily nor without much discussion. But rest assured, this decision is not one made with a heavy heart, but rather one made while overcome with joy for all our accomplishments and great anticipation and hope for the future.

Thank you, again, for everything.

In struggle and solidarity,

SHN National Advisory Board

Diana Csank Tulane 2010

Sarah Erlinder Wisconsin 2009

Lyle Gravatt Ole Miss 2010

Chanel Gray William and Mary 2010

Galen Hair Tulane 2009

Gwynne Kizer Chicago-Kent 2010

Lindsey Topp Tulane 2011

Frequently Asked Questions

When will SHN dissolve?

SHN will dissolve as soon as possible. We anticipate fulfilling all legal requirements for dissolution by the fall of 2009. First, we must ensure all our creditors have been satisfied and our affairs are in order.
How long with the SHN website continue to exist?
We anticipate continuing the website through the Spring of 2011 in some limited fashion.

What resources will be available to me through SHN?

SHN anticipates providing interested volunteers with the Trip Planning Handbook in its most recent version. SHN also anticipates receiving volunteer opportunities from our community partners and posting them on the website. There are preliminary plans in place to allow those coming to the Gulf Coast that wish to volunteer to exchange contact information. It is our hope that you will see SHN as an informational resource in the coming years as opposed to a comprehensive trip planner.

I have already made plans to come to New Orleans for a trip season next year, what should I do?

The Gulf Coast still needs help, by all means feel free to contact aid organizations and arrange to volunteer. SHN will not be able to personally place you.

What can I do to keep SHN going?

Rest assured, SHN has moved beyond its original purpose. There is no longer the need for thousands of volunteers to pour into the city for one week at a time. Our partners have put systems in place to take in volunteers on their own and much of the triage work that SHN so ably provides manpower for has begun to dwindle. That does not mean that volunteers should stop coming altogether. It only means that SHN no longer needs to provide these placements.

I would like make a donation to SHN.

SHN will no longer be able to accept donations. We are very grateful to our past donors as they have been largely responsible for our continued existence. There are many organizations in the area to which you may wish to consider making a donation.

What will SHN do with their funding?

SHN does not receive regular grant funding. Our operations have been made possible largely by private donors and awards. SHN plans to pay its creditors and then donate the remaining balance of SHN's funding. SHN has identified Louisiana Green Corps, Alliance for Affordable Energy, Student Hurricane Fund, Lower Ninth Ward Village, and Mississippi Center for Justice as recipients of our remaining funds. These organizations were identified as a fair representation of the types of partners and organizations with which we have been privileged to work. There are many other organizations in the area and if you wish to make a private donation you should consider any of these or the many other great organizations committed to helping the people of the Gulf Coast.

Questions from the May 21, 2009 Membership Call:

Can student groups continue to utilize the Student Hurricane Network as their group's name?

Yes. National Student Hurricane Network will dissolve but many school groups have worked very hard to help create SHN's good name.

How will the process now work for student leaders organizing trips?

Some information on this is above. Student groups will need to contact organizations directly. Information on organizations who need help will be here on the SHN website, as well as organizing materials from previous years like the trip planning handbook and orientation guide.

Should we require a waiver? What should the waiver language include?

As a national organization we asked students to sign waivers before volunteering through us. We did this to try to ensure that everyone had the same expectations. The waiver we used is in the "Library" section of the website, if you want to see an example. We are students and not lawyers (yet!), however, so you should have a lawyer look the waiver you plan to use over to make sure it is legally sound.

What is SHN?

The Student Hurricane Network (SHN) is a national association dedicated to providing long-term assistance to communities affected by Hurricane Katrina. SHN works with law students and administrators from all over the United States to create and coordinate volunteer opportunities for law students in the Gulf Coast. For more info about SHN please click "About Us" above.

  • Also take a look at our Annual Reports: One SHN Report from July 2008. And another SHN Report from 2006- which includes a detailed description of the Student Hurricane Networks activities since its formation as well as observations about the current state of New Orleans.


Trouble the Water

An award-winning film featuring a young couple living on the margins who survive the flooding of their city by any means necessary.

New Orleans 100

"The New Orleans 100" is a worldwide initiative that will highlight and encourage discussion among millions about 100 of the most innovative and world-changing ideas to take root in the city since Katrina. SHN is one of them!

Gulf Coast Civic Works Project

The Gulf Coast Civic Works Project is the national effort to pass HR 4048: The Gulf Coast Civic Works Act, which would create 100,000 jobs for Gulf Coast residents and evacuees to rebuild their communities.

Social Entrepeneurs of New Orleans (SENO)

SENO is comprised of an amazing group of New Orleas residents working in creative ways to renew and revitalize the city. Check out the social entrepreneur profiles and initiatives on their website.

NOLA YURP (Young Urban Rebuilding Professionals)

The NOLA YURP Initiative is about connecting, retaining and attracting the city's young workforce, but also an example of many different communities working together to solve a problem.

Pro Bono Legal Corps

The LA Bar Association and Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps legal fellows have volunteer opportunities available for law students.

Website with resources for probono attorneys

Legal info for the public in Louisiana

Legal info for the public in Mississippi

University of Mississippi Law's website for Katrina Legal Issues

Pro Bono and legal aid attorney resources - Pro Bono Net