Friday, September 02, 2005
Va. colleges offer to admit affected students
Colleges throughout Virginia are opening their doors or urging community members to open their wallets to the tens of thousands of students at universities shuttered or damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
As of Thursday, more than a half-dozen universities in the state - from Washington and Lee University to the University of Virginia - had joined the growing list of colleges nationwide offering to admit students from the dozens of Gulf Coast schools closed by the hurricane.
Meanwhile, Gov. Mark Warner has asked Virginia colleges to develop plans to enroll displaced students as part of the emergency response announced Thursday.
Hollins University has not only offered space to women enrolled at affected colleges, but is waiving tuition charges. Students still must pay room and board charges for the semester. Sweet Briar College is offering women a similiar deal.
UVa and the College of William and Mary are offering "visiting, non-degree" status for the semester to academically qualified Virginia residents enrolled at affected institutions.
"So far we have 87 coming," UVa spokeswoman Carol Wood said Thursday evening. She said UVa students were even planning a barbecue, tours and other events to welcome their new, temporary peers.
"These are kids who have been through a lot," Wood added.
David Kraus, Radford University's director of admissions, said the fact that Radford started classes on Aug. 22 makes it more difficult for students to transition there than at schools that have not started classes. But last-minute transfers were still possible, he said.
"We certainly will do whatever we can to accommodate students who have been affected by this tragedy," he said.
Washington and Lee is opening it classrooms as well as its law school to affected students. Moreover, faculty members and Lexington residents are housing several families from the Gulf Coast who moved their children into the university but are now unable to return home.
George Mason University and Old Dominion University are also accepting applications from students.
Other institutions, including Virginia Tech, were debating how to respond.
Tech spokesman Larry Hincker questioned whether the university will be able to accommodate students this semester because dorms are already overfilled and classes are completing their second week.
But he said Tech is "definitely" looking at admitting students for the spring semester if Gulf Coast schools are still closed.
Meanwhile, Tech's Student Government Association is planning a fundraising campaign to assist Katrina victims. Student government president Sumeet Bagai said he would like to see the Hokies United campaign raise at least $75,000.
The group raised just over $50,000 for the tsunami relief efforts last year.
Staff writers Greg Esposito
and JoAnne Poindexter
contributed to this report.