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Katrina Area Students Arrive

By Angeline Wang

As students from colleges affected by Hurricane Katrina began class at MIT yesterday, efforts urging the MIT community to participate in aid efforts continued with a rally held outside the Student Center.

MIT accepted 18 students affected by Katrina, with 11 choosing to attend, said Julie B. Norman, associate dean of Academic Resources and Programming. The students began arriving at MIT last week, with the last coming to campus tomorrow, Norman said.

Tuition and MIT housing for the visiting students have been waived, but students will have to pay for food, health insurance, and books, said Daniel Barkowitz, director of financial aid. “Most of the students have already paid tuition to their home institutions,” he said. “We’re saying that they don’t have to pay us as well.”

Students submitted a modified application form with self-reported information, including standardized test scores, courses, and grades, as they did not have access to their transcripts, Norman said.

The visiting students, three males and eight females, come from Tulane University, the University of New Orleans, Loyola University, and Xavier University. Six are being housed in dormitories, three in fraternities or sororities, and two off-campus — one with a sister, the other in an apartment, Norman said. While there was no formal orientation program, students were provided with a packet of informational materials, spoken to individually, and offered a campus tour, she said.

“I’m fortunate I’m here,” said University of New Orleans student Alton A. Torregano ’07. “I think MIT handled the situation pretty well. The entire process was expedited.” Torregano, who is living at the Tau Delta Chi fraternity, said he thinks he will attend MIT for the spring semester as well. MIT will provide up to two semesters for visiting students if their home schools are not open for the spring semester.

Tulane student Dorothy A. Hernandez ’07, who began classes Thursday, said that she chose to attend a Boston area school because classes in her home state of Virginia began two weeks ago. Hernandez is living in Allston, about an hour’s commute from MIT, with three other Tulane students, who are attending Boston University, she said.

Rally draws small crowd

A rally to support the aid efforts, held at noon yesterday at the Student Center, drew about 50 people, including a reporter from the Channel 4 News.

The event featured four speakers, including two representatives from Massachusetts General Hospital’s crisis response team, city council member Kenneth E. Reeves, who is running for re-election, and Claudia M. Gold ’07, an organizer whose family is from New Orleans. Two other scheduled speakers did not show up for the rally, Gold said.

Victoria Brady of the MGH public affairs office spoke briefly about the hospital’s aid efforts, including the dispatching of doctors to the area. Kristian Olson, an MGH doctor, encouraged the audience to help.

Reeves spoke about the preferential treatment of Katrina victims with higher socio-economic status. “We have seen in the most graphic demonstration that America has not been able to find it in its heart to treat all its people equally,” he said in his speech.

“I think that it’s really important for everyone, especially students, to get involved in political actions,” Gold said. “We have to think of ourselves as a community.”

“I came to the rally as a show of support for the people who have suffered so much,” said Nicholas A. Pearce ’07. “Donating money and clothing has its limits on the political side. Rallies and mass showings like this can do so much more.”

Other events planned for Katrina relief include a fundraising dinner on Saturday at 6 p.m. in La Sala de Puerto Rico in the Student Center, and a benefit concert tentatively scheduled for Sept. 24 at 9 p.m. in Lobdell. Gold encouraged students to donate to the blood drive running this week in the Student Center.

The Fall Festival this year will also be oriented toward Katrina relief, and will likely feature New Orleans musicians, said Louis D. Fouche ’07.