UC Berkeley Web Feature
|(Bonnie Azab Powell / UC Berkeley)|
Berkeley opens classrooms, dorm rooms, and arms to welcome students displaced by hurricane
BERKELEY – Broderick, from Baton Rouge, was wearing his Tulane cap. He said he didn't worry much about moving from hurricane country to earthquake country, "just as long as there's no rain and no wind." Kirk, who'd arrived at Loyola University the day before the hurricane did, quickly returned home to the East Bay via Houston. "The weirdest thing is that my parents live here on Katrina Court," he said.
Meanwhile, 13 of the 20 law students who will attend from Tulane and Loyola universities were registering for classes and meeting fellow Boalt Hall students who have volunteered to help their new classmates in the transition to Berkeley.
Chancellor Robert Birgeneau welcomed the new undergraduates, told them how sorry he was for the losses they'd suffered, and expressed hope that their home campuses would recover as quickly as possible. In the meantime, he said, the entire Cal community was determined "to make your transition as seamless as possible."
Vice Chancellor for Student Services Genaro Padilla also welcomed the new undergraduates, reassuring them that "we are going to spend a lot of time with you over the next few days. I want to encourage you, as I encourage all new students, to be a part of this community … and to be engaged in the world of ideas."
Evera Spears, assistant director of undergraduate admissions, said she and about 10 of her colleagues worked over the holiday weekend, fielding calls from more than 120 students displaced by the hurricane who were exploring their options. She said their No. 1 concern was money, followed by housing. All were assured that the campus would work with them to solve both concerns.
As visiting students, they will be responsible to their home institutions for fees and tuition. Housing, books, and other expenses will be born by the students, but an outpouring of help has been offered and campus officials have noted that they will be flexible and accommodating of individual students' needs.
"We will make this work for them," said Padilla.
Campus housing officials said they'd set up 16 temporary spaces in the Unit 1 housing complex, and additional spaces were being offered by students in other residence halls. "Our students have been incredible," said Housing's Nancy Jurich. "We got an e-mail from two roommates at Clark Kerr saying, 'Thank you for the opportunity to do this.'"
It is anticipated that the displaced students will return to their home campuses after the fall term if their campuses are ready to resume operations. Already, Tulane University has announced plans to reopen for its spring term.
Half the undergraduates are Bay Area residents; a few others are from elsewhere in California. The remainder are from Louisiana and other states. Many of the law students also hail from the Bay Area, and all have a California connection to provide a support network.
The visiting undergraduates range from entering freshmen to seniors with a wide range of majors. The largest number of students are from Tulane University, based in New Orleans, with others from Loyola, the University of New Orleans and two historically black colleges, Xavier and Dillard Universities.
With space for up to 50 students, admissions officials worked with the students to determine whether their needs and UC Berkeley were a good match, taking into account the order of when the inquiries came in. "Most importantly, we looked at what classes they need to take and where we had space," said Walter Robinson, director of undergraduate admissions. "We asked whether they could be here by today (Tuesday) or tomorrow, because if they couldn't, we were concerned they would get too late a start."
For those students not offered a spot at Berkeley for the fall, admissions officials suggested other UC campuses, which have yet to begin classes, and California State University campuses that might better match their needs.
Janet Gilmore and Noel Gallagher contributed to this report.