As several dozen students gathered on the Diag for a vigil for hurricane victims, University officials reported yesterday that all but four of the University’s students known to be from hurricane-affected areas have been accounted for.

Sarah Royce
LSA freshman Aimee Bothwell holds a candle during a vigil for Hurricane Katrina on the diag last night. The vigil was attended by a few dozen students. The University has successfully located all but four of the students from hurricane-affected areas. (MI

Dean of Students Sue Eklund said a fifth student has not contacted her office, but has been sighted on campus.

Of the students who have phoned or e-mailed the University, all are safe and sound, if a bit shaken.

The University continues to search for the remaining students, Eklund said, adding that her office is doing everything it can: sending e-mails, asking professors and housing staff to keep an eye out for the students and contacting their departments.

“Some are having a tough time getting back to campus, leaving temporary shelter or finding transportation. It’s just taking time until they surface,” she said.

For now, Eklund said, energy is being devoted to helping hurricane students who are on campus.

As of yesterday, a total of 66 students from colleges and universities located in the devastated areas have been admitted to the University, with dozens more applications being processed. Two professors from affected universities — Tulane history profs. Lawrence Powell and Steven Pierce — will be teaching classes at the University this fall.

 

Financial Relief

Though physically well and relocated, many of these students now face the daunting task of finding money to pay for fall term.

To help, the University has opened its wallet.

“We are being very generous with financial aid,” University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said.

For example, the University has pledged to cover the full cost of the fall term’s tuition and fees for newly admitted nondegree students.

Students will also be eligible for additional grants to cover the remaining costs associated with higher education — housing, books and even money for food and clothing.

Previously enrolled University students from the affected areas can also apply for additional aid, even though the financial aid deadline has passed.

“Those who have really lost everything are going to be eligible for additional grants to cover their full financial need. It costs more than just tuition to go to school,” Peterson said.

The funding for these additional grants will come from various places, including external sources, Peterson said. She explained that many of these students even qualify for federal emergency dollars.

Students fundraise, volunteer

The University is not the only organization on campus working for hurricane relief.

At a Michigan Student Assembly planning meeting Wednesday night, more than 70 students showed up with ideas on how to get money into the hands of relief workers.

On of the most ambitious ideas came from LSA junior Michael Kasprzak, who suggested a plan to raise $1 million.

“My idea is to have everyone at the Big House for the rest of the home games donate at least one dollar. If 112,000 people donate at least one dollar, multiply that by six more home games — we can raise  $660,000,” Kasprzak wrote in an e-mail to The Michigan Daily.

He added that if the University challenged other schools like Notre Dame and Ohio State, the collective goal of $1 million could be reached.

When asked about Kasprzak’s idea, MSA president Jesse Levine responded that although the athletic department has collaborated with MSA to collect money at the football games, no number should be set on how much will be raised.

“This Saturday, there will be at least 48 students with buckets at the gates for the Red Cross,” Levine said. As for whether the collections will continue beyond the Notre Dame game, Levine said he was not sure yet.

At last week’s game against Northern Illinois, fundraising organizations brought in nearly $53,000.

MSA Chief of Staff Justin Paul and Rep. Tim Wiggins are also working with Arts at Michigan to hold a benefit fashion show and the Ginsberg Center to organize service trips during fall break, winter break and spring break.

Some students are taking efforts into their own hands. Josephine Hwang, a graduate student in the School of Social Work, has volunteered along with alum Jacquelene Steele to go south and serve with the Red Cross.

With Steele already departed for Baton Rouge, Hwang awaits deployment, expecting to receive her assignment tomorrow.

Having made arrangements with her professors to catch up on work when she gets back, Hwang will miss three weeks of the semester to help coordinate emergency response. There is a great possibility that she will live in a shelter amidst less-than-favorable conditions such as intense heat and high emotions.

But she is not concerned about heat, humidity, or even homework.

“It’s not about us; it’s not about me or the harsh conditions that I might face,” she said. “All of this is all about the evacuees. When I put it in that perspective, I’m not worried about anything about me for the next three weeks.”

— Daily news editor Michael Kan contributed to this report.

Can’t leave for three weeks? The Red Cross needs you here. The Washtenaw County Chapter of the Red Cross is in urgent need of local volunteers, especially those who can commit to a regular schedule for the next three to six months.

Things you can do:

• Help receive and process donations

• Assist individuals and organizations wishing to hold fundraisers

• Act as front-door greeters

• Answer phones

 

Want to go?

The Red Cross is also seeking volunteers for deployment to affected areas.

 

For more information, call (734) 971-5300.

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