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UC Berkeley Press Release

Campus launches Katrina Emergency Fund

– Donations of financial assistance for students displaced by Hurricane Katrina who are temporarily studying at UC Berkeley can now be sent to the campus's new online Katrina Emergency Fund. (EDITOR'S NOTE: The fund was established only for Fall 2005, and is no longer accepting contributions.)

The fund, to be administered through the Office of Student Life, will provide emergency aid to a growing number of students arriving at UC Berkeley - many who came to campus with only the clothes on their backs - from universities affected by the hurricane.

As of this week, the campus has announced plans to host up to 50 undergraduate, 18 law school and about 70 graduate students. The undergraduates, for example, come from five schools - Tulane, Loyola, Xavier and Dillard universities and the University of New Orleans - that were hit by Katrina, and more than half of these students are originally from California.

"I am proud of the many efforts of our Cal family and friends to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and this new fund will be an important site for that support," said Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau.

"There has been a tremendous outpouring of help from the campus and beyond - alumni working in their local communities as relief workers, staff members leading the effort to receive displaced students, Cal students raising funds on Sproul Plaza, and campus researchers analyzing the disaster and offering expertise," he said. "Even Bay area residents with no prior connection to Cal are calling with offers of help after seeing news stories on TV.

"The Cal community is fulfilling the great tradition of public service at Berkeley."

Dozens of displaced students already are at UC Berkeley and attending classes, but they are grappling with how to find housing and buy clothing, books and other supplies.

Esther Gulli, executive administrative officer for UC Berkeley's vice chancellor for student affairs, said these students' needs range from clothing to computers to toothbrushes and that "many of them literally left their dorm rooms on a moment's notice." At their schools in the Gulf Coast region, some were at orientation sessions with their parents and became separated from them in the mayhem, she added.

Since arriving at UC Berkeley, most of the students have found short-term housing, said Gulli, but they soon will need to find more stable living situations. They also need money to outfit their rooms and apartments with basics such as kitchen utensils, towels and bedding.

The undergraduates are at UC Berkeley as visiting students, meaning that they are responsible to their home institutions for fees and tuition but must pay while at UC Berkeley for housing, books and other college necessities.

Gulli said that the displaced students may need emergency transportation money to return to their home universities to retrieve items from their dorm rooms. It is anticipated that they will go back to their home campuses after the fall term if those universities can resume operations.

UC Berkeley staff members are working with the displaced students individually to assess and meet their needs, Gulli said. The emergency fund will be managed by the student life office in a way similar to a fund set up for UC Berkeley students affected by the Oakland hills fire of 1991.

Offers of help for these students affected by Hurricane Katrina continue to pour in, from on and off campus.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of all the people here who have responded to this crisis at a moment's notice," said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Genaro Padilla at a welcoming session for the newly arrived undergraduates. "The attitude has been, 'We're not going to worry about the obstacles, we're going to do our part.'"

Campus officials said they are not able to take in material goods for the students and encouraged people with items to give to donate them through charitable organizations set up to help the hurricane victims.

Questions about the Katrina Emergency Fund should be e-mailed to calstudents@berkeley.edu.