As students displaced by Hurricane Katrina settle into UCSB, Gaucho organizations prepare for a series of fundraisers to send aid back to the Gulf Coast.
Director of Admissions Christine Van Gieson said UCSB has admitted 27 students from colleges and universities in Louisiana that were damaged or closed by the hurricane. To help those still living where the brunt of the storm hit, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and the recently founded Helping Everyone Live Peacefully, as well as other student groups, are planning on-campus events to raise money for relief efforts.
Gieson said some of the refugee students who were admitted had applied to UCSB at an earlier date and were still in the university’s database, thus allowing the students to submit a late statement of intent to register. Students who had not previously applied to the university were admitted through visitor status, which grants a student one quarter of enrollment with fees waived.
“It being an unusual emergency situation, all institutions of higher education agreed that they would do all they could,” Gieson said. “Universities around the country said that they would find space.”
Gieson said many of the admitted students were freshmen and would probably be allowed to apply for acceptance to the university if they decide to stay beyond fall quarter. She said all UC campuses were finding space to admit the Louisiana students for at least one quarter.
“The feeling was that we could admit these students without endangering their education or anyone else’s,” Gieson said.
Freshmen William Faulkner, an undeclared first-year, and Jonathan Kneib, a medicine major, said they moved into Tulane University on the Saturday before the hurricane hit, but had to leave when New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin called for an emergency evacuation.
When the situation in New Orleans became unruly, students were denied the opportunity to return, Faulkner said.
“We tried to get back to New Orleans but they wouldn’t let students back in until martial law was over,” Faulkner said.
Kneib said he chose to attend UCSB after other schools denied him enrollment.
“The other schools had started already and didn’t have housing available,” Kneib said.
Faulkner and Kneib said they are currently undecided as to whether or not they will stay at UCSB once Tulane reopens in the spring.
While these transfer students are waiting until they can return to New Orleans, others UCSB students are preparing to help with the hurricane relief efforts.
MSA president and third-year Middle Eastern studies major Adam Al-Sarraf said his organization plans to hold a “Fast-a-thon” to raise money for the hurricane relief efforts while helping students to gain insight into the Muslim celebration of Ramadan at the same time. Al-Sarraf said students can sign up throughout the month to give up food, water or both on Oct. 27. Donors from the community will sponsor the event and contribute funds for the relief efforts, Al-Sarraf said.
“The organization acknowledges that fasting is quite difficult,” he said. “The idea is that [students] are fasting for a day so others don’t have to.”
Al-Sarraf said MSA’s goal is to raise two thousand dollars. He also said participants will be invited to Corwin Pavilion on Oct. 27 to celebrate Istar, a feast held after sundown during Ramadan.
“We’re looking for people to have a spiritual contract for the event,” Al-Sarraf said. “Muslims fast to experience what its like to not have food.”
Helping Everyone Live Peacefully (H.E.L.P.) co-founder and second-year communications major Daniella Elghanayan said her group was created to assist in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, but it will continue fundraising in the future for other victims of natural disasters.
“What we want to do right now is get it moving,” Elghanayan said. “So we are going to be doing a lot of stuff trying to get students to help us out.”
Elghanayan said H.E.L.P. plans to host a talent show during Parent’s Weekend, held on Nov. 5 and 6, and will donate all the profits to the hurricane relief efforts. She said H.E.L.P. is looking for diversity in its talent show – including dancers, bands and actors.
H.E.L.P. has around 15 members, but hopes to increase its membership during the Activities Faire on Oct. 19. She said the group will hopefully provide an outlet for students the next time a natural disaster hits.
“The difference is that we want to continue with this and we want to see it flourish,” Elghanayan said. “Hopefully it will provoke more students to want to help.”