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Two Tulane Students Remain At MIT

By Angeline Wang

Two of the 10 students hosted by the Institute last term after their universities were temporarily shut down by Hurricane Katrina are staying on for at least another semester, with at least one hoping to permanently transfer to MIT.

The two students, Luke H. Harris ’09 and Shir Elany ’08, both hail from Tulane University, which reopened its doors this month while cutting back its academic programs, including engineering. The other eight students have returned to their home institutions, said Julie B. Norman, associate dean of academic resources.

Harris said his academic performance in the spring semester will help to determine whether MIT decides to admit him as a permanent student. If he earns A’s and B’s he will be admitted as a transfer student, he said.

Transfer admission is typically far more competitive than freshman admission; in the last two years, only about two percent of transfer applicants have been admitted compared to about 16 percent for freshman applicants, according to data available online from the Provost’s office.

MIT was Harris’ top college choice when he initially applied to college. When interviewed in November, Harris said that he was discussing the possibility of staying at MIT for the spring semester with Dean of Admissions Marilee Jones.

“I think they wanted to allow me to have some sort of stability, rather than bouncing me around to a different school every semester,” Harris said in reference to MIT’s decision to extend his special student status for another semester. “Even if that wasn’t what they were thinking, they’ve certainly done that for me anyway.”

He also speculated that MIT’s decision was affected by Tulane’s cancellation of almost all of its engineering majors, as well as his intention of transferring out of Tulane after his first year.

Elany declined to be interviewed for this article.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, several engineering departments will be eliminated in 2007, giving sophomores and juniors a chance to complete their studies. Tulane freshmen will be encouraged to explore other majors, and those interested in transferring to other schools in the fall will be given $2,000 from Tulane in relocation assistance.

The same article states that 88 percent of Tulane undergraduates were expected to return to campus last week for the beginning of the spring term.

Most Tulane students that were staying at neighboring Boston-area universities have returned to the New Orleans campus, but not always without a fight. In early December, a small rally was held by representatives of the Harvard Undergraduate Council and eight displaced Tulane freshmen who attended Harvard University. According to The Crimson, Harvard’s student newspaper, the students demanded that administrators allow the Tulane freshmen to apply for transfer admission to Harvard for the spring semester. All 25 Tulane students at Harvard returned to New Orleans, including the eight freshmen.

Boston University took in 320 Tulane undergraduates in September, who were granted BU student status for one semester only. As of mid-December, according to the BU student newspaper The Daily Free Press, only three visiting Tulane students had filed transfer applications to stay in the spring.