Baylor Opens Campus, Homes To Students Displaced By Hurricane
For the latest updates on Baylor's Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, go to www.baylor.edu/katrina/.
As the Gulf Coast reels from one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, Baylor University has opened its doors - and several students and faculty members have opened their homes - to more than two dozen students who have been displaced from their institutions because of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.
As of Sept. 7, Baylor had registered 25 undergraduates, and at least two other students in Baylor Law School and George W. Truett Theological Seminary, including:
8 from Xavier University
7 from Tulane University
4 from the University of New Orleans
2 from Our Lady of the Holy Cross
1 from Loyola University
1 from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
1 from Dillard University
1 from Southern University
1 from University of Southern Mississippi
1 from Delgado Community College
The students represent cities in Texas (11), Oklahoma (1), Louisiana (14) and Mississippi (1). Several students arrived at Baylor following their evacuation to Texas from the Superdome in New Orleans. One student enrolled at Baylor after being sheltered by Seventh and James Baptist Church.
Baylor Offers Tuition, Fees, Housing
University officials announced on Aug. 31 that Baylor would be able to accommodate sophomores, juniors and seniors from schools in the hurricane-affected areas. Almost immediately, admissions staff members began taking calls from students seeking to continue their studies at Baylor on a temporary basis until their universities reopen.
Baylor also announced that it would provide room and board, in addition to tuition and fees, to those students coming from schools closed due to Hurricane Katrina.
"The purpose of Baylor's effort in providing tuition and student fees was to assist students who had already paid their tuition and fees at a school closed this fall by Katrina," said Dr. Reagan M. Ramsower, acting vice president for finance and administration. "Specifically, the effort was in recognition that these students could not get a refund from the affected school and therefore did not have the money to pay Baylor's tuition and fees for this fall semester. In some of these cases, the student may have already paid a full term's room and board to the affected school. In the same spirit as with tuition and fees, Baylor would not charge that student for room and board this fall since the student had already paid that money to one of the affected schools."
Karin Klinger, Baylor's assistant director of student activities, has served as a point person for finding these new students a place to live. So far, she has placed six students in on-campus housing and has received an untold number of calls from people, who are opening their apartments and homes to students displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
"It's been amazing. As overwhelming as the workload has been with all the details that have to be taken care of, like getting students into classes and obtaining permission from professors to add more students to their classes even though they will have missed two weeks, the thing that has been more overwhelming is the incredible graciousness and generosity of our students and our community," Klinger said.
"I didn't know that you could exceed a message limit on our voicemail here at Baylor, but I've already done that twice," she added.
Klinger said she has received hundreds of messages from people who called offering a bike to a student needing transportation, faculty members and students offering their homes to house, feed, clothe and take care of students, apartment complexes making a financial donation to help the students buy books.
"In every situation, some Baylor individual has stepped up and said, 'Let me help,'" she said. "It's been very inspirational."
Baylor's department of student activities also has created an "Adopt a Displaced Student" program. As many as 15 student organizations have volunteered to assist new students with a variety of needs, from finding their classes to buying books at the bookstore. But Klinger said she hopes the program and the involved students will go above and beyond providing general support.
"More than anything, I want them to provide these new students with friends and listening ears," Klinger said. "We want our students to make sure that these new students are aware of the university's counseling center and the support it can provide because they have been through a traumatic situation. Some of them came here with literally nothing at all but the clothes on their backs. But our student body and university community have risen to the occasion and they have shown a truly overwhelming generous and giving nature."
Student Activities has created a hurricane relief web page that provides information on the many combined efforts to provide service and relief to victims of Hurricane Katrina. Klinger said her department also will focus on the long-term, including organizing student relief efforts to the hurricane-affected areas during both Fall and Spring breaks and in years to come.
"We hope to help our students understand that the devastation from the hurricane will take years to repair and rebuild...and we want to be a consistent, helpful presence for those victimized by the tragedy," she said.
"Paws for a Cause"
As it did in January in the wake of the tsunami in Indonesia, Baylor's Student Government immediately mobilized to set up a means by which students, faculty, staff and alumni could contribute to hurricane relief efforts. External Student Body Vice President Katie Weiss helped organize Paws for a Cause to raise funds for Buckner Baptist Benevolences and Texas Baptist Men. Both organizations, Weiss said, will give 100 percent of all received donations towards relief efforts in the Gulf Coast area.
"Baylor Bears have always risen to the occasion to help those in need," said Weiss, a junior political science major from Dallas. "We ask the entire Baylor family to join us in helping the victims of this horrible tragedy who lost loved ones, friends, homes and their businesses and who had their world changed forever."
The university community also has come together in other ways to assist with relief efforts. George W. Truett Theological Seminary has served the Baylor family as a collection site for non-perishable food, cleanup and health care items most requested by FEMA and other emergency relief organizations. See photos top right.
The seminary will take donations from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily throughout September in the first floor dean's suite. Some suggested items include: cleanup kits, health kits, bottled water, canned tuna, diapers, peanut butter, and granola or cereal bars. The donations benefit local relief organizations.
Coaches, Athletes in Action
Baylor's athletic department also will team with the American Red Cross to assist Hurricane Katrina relief efforts during the Bears' football game at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, vs. Samford. A number of Baylor student groups will take monetary donations at each entrance of Floyd Casey Stadium. Baylor's Alumni Steppin' Out groups also have organized blood drives to be held throughout the football season. Fans and alumni are encouraged to give blood to the Baylor Nation American Red Cross drive beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday in Touchdown Alley. Throughout the season, Baylor alums will have the opportunity to donate blood in each city that carries the Baylor football radio broadcast. A list of these cities can be found here.
Even members of the national champion Baylor Lady Bears basketball team assisted with an all-day hurricane relief drive in Waco on Sept. 2. Head Coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson, who grew up in Hammond, La., about an hour from New Orleans, her coaching staff and players spent several hours sorting - and carrying - thousands of pounds of food and health care items donated to the relief effort. See photos at right.
"Being that I'm from Southeast Louisiana, it's a little personal for me. The least that I could do was help out," Mulkey-Robertson said. "Once I got out to HEB, I stayed for three hours, as did my assistant coaches, loading two 18-wheel trucks."
The Lady Bears were then called into action.
"It was a Friday afternoon and they were going to be doing a lot of running and lifting, and I thought what greater place to lift than to help other people," Mulkey-Robertson said.
Another Baylor head coach headed to the Mississippi Gulf Coast right after the hurricane swept through that state. Baseball coach and Mississippi native Steve Smith was in contact with his mother and brother, who live in the hard-hit area of Gulfport, as flood waters rose and fell in his mother's home about two miles from the beach.
"About 9:15 in the morning, he told me that they were starting to get water in the house, and that really shocked me because we've lived there for 35 years. There have been a lot of hurricanes, and even Hurricane Camille did not get water to where that house is," Smith said.
Smith said his last phone call to his mother and brother was in the middle of the afternoon. They were still in the attic at that time, but the water level in the house was receding.
"The thing that surprised me once I did get down there was just the amount of wind damage that was done where she lived. And really, all the way through the state," Smith said. "What was the hardest on me, to be honest with you, was the town and the coast. The devastation on the coast, the beach, the homes on the beach, my church that I grew up in, the downtown area...that devastation is just massive."
Smith said in athletic terms, players define themselves by how they react to adversity. The same holds for residents along the Gulf Coast.
"No matter what your sport is you're going to have fumbles, you're going to have errors, you're going to have bad things happen to you, and how you respond to that as an athlete is really who you are," Smith said. "Many, many people were affected by this. Some far worse than we were. But all people are going to have an opportunity to respond to it and they will define themselves by how they do it."
Truett Seminary, Baylor Law Offer Room
After the hurricane hit the Louisiana coast, Truett Seminary Dean Paul Powell sent an e-mail to Dr. Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Powell extended an offer to NOBTS students to study at Truett while the school recovered from the hurricane. One student, a Houston native and Baylor graduate, has enrolled at Truett for the semester.
Baylor Law School has immediately offered to work with the law schools at Tulane and Loyola to accommodate their law students as visiting law students while the Louisiana schools recover from the hurricane. One Tulane law student, Chuck Malaise, has applied to Baylor Law, where he found a warm welcome awaiting him Tuesday morning. See photo at right.
Malaise, who said he was very grateful for the way Baylor had "opened its arms like this."
"Many members of my mother's family went to Baylor," he said. "My father's family are mostly Aggies." Malaise and his wife, Devin, received their undergraduate degrees from Texas A&M University and lived in the Fort Worth and Arlington area before moving to Louisiana.
With Hurricane Katrina looming large in the Gulf, the 28-year-old Midland native left New Orleans with his wife and their seven-month-old son, Hayden, on Aug. 26 and headed by car to College Station, where his parents live. Katrina hit the Gulf Coast early Aug. 29.
"We were among the lucky ones with a car," he said. "We have evacuated four times before from New Orleans and knew when it was time to get out."
Malaise, who was one week into his second year at Tulane when the hurricane hit, said he had heard that some trees were downed in the Uptown district of New Orleans where they lived, but their rented house escaped even window damage. "Then the levee broke," he said. "I'm told that some parts of Uptown had standing water two or three feet deep. Eventually we would like to return to the house and recover what we can of our property. We have a couple of big items there."
His wife works for a New Orleans law firm, but Malaise said after the hurricane the firm rented space in Houston and she relocated there, helping to equip and establish their new offices. "Our son is staying with his grandparents," he said. "His future safety and interests are the main reasons we have decided to stay in Texas. New Orleans was fun, but it will be a lot safer here."
For more information go to http://law.baylor.edu/News/katrina01.htm.
Evacuees Helped By Nursing Students
Baylor's Louise Herrington School of Nursing students and faculty are responding with an unparalleled spirit of charity. The school's dean, Dr. Judy Wright Lott, said they are taking numerous steps to help Hurricane Katrina evacuees, from providing health care to people in Reunion Arena, enrolling displaced nursing students and collecting donations to facilitating volunteer efforts for the entire faculty and student body.
"We are incorporating one day of volunteer efforts as part of our community clinical course," Lott said. "Anna Hilton, our community clinical instructor, took eight students to Reunion Arena on Saturday [Sept. 4]. They worked for 10 hours straight, providing triage, taking health histories, bandaging and treating minor injuries and much more.
"They didn't want to let our students leave on Saturday," Lott added.
Assistant professor Lori Spies, who serves as the school's missions coordinator, said students have taken initiative in finding ways to help.
"Four undergraduate students collected over $2,000 in donations at a local mall last Saturday [Sept. 4]. The school donated the cash collected to the North Texas Food Bank, which is feeding the county's evacuees, and the checks were given to the American Red Cross," she said. "They've set up boxes and fliers and have taken responsibility for getting them to the Salvation Army and Red Cross."
Spies said students' generosity even extended to a volunteer "shift" at a Dallas hospital emergency room. Three students, who had just gotten off work at 11 p.m., went to the ER and stayed until 4 a.m., giving exhausted hospital staff a desperately needed chance to rest.
Spies also is arranging different opportunities for faculty and students to volunteer through various agencies in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
"The first one is going to be working in the North Texas Food Bank. We're also plugging in through the relief organizations to volunteer on site at the clinics at Reunion Arena and the Dallas Convention Center," she said.
The tremendous need created by Katrina is providing impetus to begin a mission response group at Baylor's nursing school.
"We are hoping to start meeting and get Red Cross training so we can plug in earlier when disasters occur," she said, adding that the commitment of the Baylor students and faculty will be an ongoing help in providing relief.
"We will still be here in two or three weeks when the others go back to work," she said.
Baylor nursing school lecturer Charles Kemp and the Agape Clinic & Baylor Community Care are participating in the Dallas County Medical Society's effort to provide healthcare for people displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The Baylor Community Clinic is a ministry and service-learning program at the nursing school.
The nursing school even stepped up to assist a faculty member with the LSU School of Nursing, located in New Orleans and according to reports, still under about eight feet of water.
Earlier this week, the LSU faculty member had contacted Baylor's nursing school about accessing Baylor's online library materials so she could complete a proposal. Lott contacted Billie Peterson-Lugo with Baylor Libraries, who found a way to accommodate the professor's request.
"It's amazing what the human spirit can endure in times like these," the LSU faculty member said in an e-mail to Lott. "We couldn't do it without people like you. I greatly appreciate your help and generosity."