Colleges focus on displaced students


Published: Thursday, September 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 1, 2005 at 1:50 a.m.
Florida's public universities and schools were planning Wednesday for ways to accommodate out-of-state students displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
Provosts with Florida's public universities met early Wednesday to discuss how to help displaced students.
University of Florida provost Janie Fouke said the school is organizing an effort to see how much capacity exists at each university to accept students.
At least one school, Florida State University, has agreed to allow students affected by Katrina to continue classes while paying the much-lower in-state tuition.
Carolyn Roberts, the chairwoman with the Florida Board of Governors, said universities want to help any way they can.
''I think we all need to have compassion and help people work out these terrible situations,'' she said, adding that the state wasn't trying to steal students but wanted to let them continue studies until they could return.
Roberts conceded the logistics of registering Katrina-displaced students were great.
''Where do they live? School has already started. We can't even talk to those schools'' affected by Katrina, she said. ''But if there is anything we can do to help, we want to.''
Browning Brooks, a spokeswoman for FSU, said five students displaced by Katrina have already enrolled at the school. Like most universities, FSU's dorms are filled. But Brooks said the school would help students find off-campus housing.
Fouke said no decision has been made on what tuition rate would be given to displaced students at UF. While there is off-campus housing available, she said UF is filled.
''We have probably the largest enrollment ever at UF, so our capacity is going to be spotty,'' she said.
University of North Florida spokeswoman Sharon Ashton said students from Tulane and Loyola universities in Louisiana contacted the Jacksonville school Tuesday about enrolling. They were admitted on a temporary basis, she said.
Florida education officials were also discussing how to enroll K-12 students forced from other states, but there were no firm details or plans Wednesday night.
''We realize there is an immediate need and we're assessing the situation,'' said Florida Department of Education spokeswoman Deborah Higgins. ''We're looking to see where Florida can help.''
An idea of how many displaced students and families may end up in Florida for an extended period came in Pensacola where the population of the Civic Center's shelter grew from 171 Tuesday night to nearly 500 by Wednesday afternoon.
Escambia County spokeswoman Sonya Smith said the city was seeking longer-term arrangements than the Civic Center, examining a closed elementary school and a community center where the Red Cross could continue feeding Katrina evacuees.
''We're trying to come up with the best solution,'' Smith said. ''They can come here today, they can come here tonight. Nobody's being kicked out.''
Bush spokesman Russell Schweiss said state agencies were in the early stages of assessing where to house long-term evacuees.
The governor's office was busy Wednesday dismissing rumors that Bush had ordered a rationing of gasoline.
Bush did urge Floridians to car pool and turn up their thermostats to conserve electricity.
Speaking in St. Petersburg, Bush said despite the release of crude oil from the national reserve, the lack of capacity to refine that oil means ''that won't deal with the short-term problems that we're going to face as a state.
''You are going to see shortages of gasoline. I'm telling you right now, and there's not much we can do about it,'' he said. ''People should not hoard. Be sensitive to your neighbors.
''I can't tell you how long it will be before the refineries get back online, but I do think that we can mitigate the problem by conserving energy.''
Bush invoked the state's rebound from last year's onslaught of four hurricanes as a source for spirit.
''We can look at this as a challenge as a state and say, 'You know, we went through four hurricanes last year and people were evacuating all over the place. There was tremendous hardship and, yet, we got through that,''' he said.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top