President Hansen on Bates' response to Katrina

Dear Members of the Bates Community,

I know we all share deep sadness about conditions in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina and many questions about how we might help the victims of this terrible catastrophe.

As soon as we became aware of the disaster, Dean of Students Tedd Goundie sought to contact all of the Bates students we knew of who came from the devastated areas. Within the last few days we have heard that all are safe and either on campus now or en route.

Late yesterday I announced that any Maine undergraduates enrolled at colleges or universities in the New Orleans and Mississippi Gulf Coast area devastated by Hurricane Katrina will be welcome, as visiting, non-matriculating students, to take courses for credit without charge at Bates this fall semester. We have not yet been able to contact the affected colleges and universities to seek their guidance or approval. Arrangements cannot be finalized until we do so, but since our classes begin Monday we wanted to open this possibility up in a timely fashion. The Dean of Students Office has already received inquiries from over twenty Maine students enrolled at Tulane University and Loyola University.

On the national level, several higher education organizations are also working to address the particular concerns of students who were enrolled in colleges and universities that have been closed by the hurricane. ACE (the American Council on Education) has agreed to serve as the primary resource for information sought by dislocated students and their parents, as they consider their options for the fall semester. Together with NACUBO (the National Association of College and University Business Officers) and EDUCAUSE, ACE plans as soon as possible to create a Web site that will have information on the status of the closed colleges and universities, enrollment possibilities at other institutions, and general information for the dislocated students and their parents.

NAICU (the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities) is coordinating the work of six national presidential associations; they plan to work with Congress, and appropriate executive departments, on issues regarding student financial aid and the particular needs of international students.

As we enthusiastically welcome new members of the Bates community and launch gladly into a promising new academic year, we are both more grateful for our good fortune and more aware that countless Americans are suffering from the devastation of Katrina. Each of us will no doubt choose different ways of joining in the effort to assist, and I encourage us all to explore the various channels that are now being established.

At 4 p.m. today, there will be a meeting at the Harward Center for Community Partnership at 161 Wood Street to discuss other productive ways that the campus community can contribute to the crisis response.

Anyone interested in joining this conversation is welcome to attend.