Campus: CSU East Bay -- November 16, 2005

Many Katrina Students Staying Put

Lauren Rios should be spending her junior year at Tulane University in New Orleans. Instead the women's studies major from El Paso is enrolled at Cal State East Bay and living in International House.

She's one of 66 students who found refuge here after Hurricane Katrina devastated their universities. When the fall quarter ends, Rios doesn't plan on leaving.

"Cal State was very open and generous to all the students," said Rios. "I'm staying for the next quarter."

She's not alone. More than half the Katrina students enrolled at Cal State East Bay for the fall quarter say they want to stay at least to the end of the academic year, according to the Office of Student Affairs. Of the 59 students who have met with counselors, 20 have said they want to stay at least one year and 16 plan to continue their educations at Cal State East Bay.

Rios came here with her Tulane roommate, Dorrie Swanson, who is from Oakland. After the roommates evacuated from Tulane, Swanson invited Rios to come home to the Bay Area with her and enroll at Cal State East Bay.

With so many universities across the country opening their doors to Katrina-affected students, Swanson said many of her Tulane classmates have gone on to Ivy League schools like Yale and Stanford. But with so much upheaval in the aftermath of Katrina, Swanson said she didn't want to move to another new city.

"I wanted to be close to home," said Swanson, a psychology major minoring in the African diaspora, Tulane's equivalent to African American Studies.

Both young women want to return to Tulane for their senior year.

"I miss it and I want to support it," said Rios, one of 30 Katrina students who attended an African American Faculty and Staff Association reception in their honor.

But other students say they will never go back to their former universities.

"I most likely will finish up my schooling here," said Eunique LeGuie. "I don't plan to go back. I'm not really interested in running from hurricanes."

Tatiana Mitchell, a Bay Area native, spent one year as a Xavier University of Louisiana student, and she isn't going back.

"I changed my major to pre-nursing," she said. "Xavier doesn't have a nursing program, so I'm going to stay in California and apply to nursing schools here."

Regina Akhmadullina, an international student from Russia, was attending the University of New Orleans when Katrina struck and set her on a whole new path.

"I really like the university and International House," she said. "They've been so helpful and even gave us free books. I plan to finish my schooling here."

Cal State East Bay has the largest contingent of Katrina students in the CSU system, which has waived through June the nonresident fees for students displaced from Gulf Coast universities.

Additionally, Cal State East Bay offered free room and board in International House for the fall quarter, and 55 have taken advantage of the offer to live in the former Carlos Bee Hall across from the Hayward campus. The university took over management of the student-housing complex last May.

For the rest of the academic year, those students will still receive free accommodations but will have to begin paying for the meal plan, said Ray Wallace who oversees I-House. The meals will cost about $693 a quarter.

Many university groups have raised money and provided gifts to the Katrina students as well as counseling and academic advising. The Student Academic Services department created the Katrina Scholars Program to coordinate services to the students.

So far 59 of the 66 Katrina students have enrolled in the program. Each has received a $200 scholarship as well as academic, career, financial and personal counseling services.

CSUEB Student Relief Efforts

Fee waivers
Non-resident fees waived for students from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Deferred payment plans given for state-resident fees.

Free room and board provided for the fall quarter in International House, the former Carlos Bee Hall. Free rooms will be available through June 31.

Free textbooks
Sixteen publishers donated $20,000 worth of textbooks to Katrina students.

Gift cards
The African American Faculty and Staff Association threw a party on Oct. 21 to honor Katrina students and gave each who attended a $50 gift card.

Goodie bags
Cal State 9 Credit Union distributed care packages with T-shirts, pens, pencils and a $50 Target gift card. Also waived $5 fee normally charged to sign up for banking services.

Katrina Relief Fund for Students
An anonymous alumnus kicked off the fund with $500. As of Nov. 15, $2,355 raised, including $300 from Pioneer Heights residents.

Clothing drive
University Police, the Community Policing Advisory Board and Staff Connections collected new bedding, towels, clothing, phone cards and dorm items.

Shopping trip
Mervyn's Department Store donated a shopping spree on Oct. 29 for Katrina Scholars living in International House.

Contact: Donna Hemmila, 510 885-4295

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