Monday, September 05, 2005

Open Doors

Universities from across the Texas region and the United States have opened their doors to students displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Since I work for a University in the admissions department in Texas, I personally witnessed the influx of students trying to gain admissions to our school. Beginning on Wednesday we were told that we would have to work late, to help process student applications, register them into courses, and get them into classes as soon as possible. Even before the University made a public announcement students started lining up outside our offices by 8am. By noon, the hallway littered with kids, hunched over applications, sitting on folded-out chairs.

We provided them with breakfast and lunch. These people have gone through a great ordeal and the academic community has tried to put them at ease the best it can. As a previous student, I know the fear of losing a whole academic year can be nerve-wracking but combined with the stress of being unexpectedly relocated or worst having no place to go, can leave one utterly hopeless. That’s why our school has offered free housing for some students but spaces soon became unavailable. I personally dealt with a pair of Nicaraguan freshman students who recently came to the United States. This was going to be their first year at the University of New Orleans and they have no family in America. They managed to escape the Hurricane by piling up in a car with friends heading to Houston. They came to our office on Wednesday and by the end of the day, I was able to register them into classes. However, they had nowhere to go after class, nowhere to stay, fortunately, my director managed to get them into the dormitories that evening. We are already two weeks into the Fall semester, so stress will possibly only increase for these students. However, it’s wonderful to see universities give a warm welcome to their academic colleagues from their neighboring states.

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