Union in the News for September 5, 2005
Capital region colleges help students bound for Tulane
By Mary Martialay - The Daily Gazette
Chelsea Anderson, a 2005 Saratoga Springs High School graduate, was unloading her belongings at Tulane University when the word came: Campus is shutting down for the hurricane, and the surrounding city of New Orleans is under a voluntary evacuation order.
She packed a duffle bag of clothes, stashed the rest of her things in her dorm room, and went with her family to wait out the storm in a hotel room.
That was a week ago last Saturday. As this weekend approached, instead of wrapping up her first week of classes, she was on a respite visit to her boyfriend in Baltimore. Speaking from their Saratoga Springs home, her mother's boyfriend says the family doesn't yet know what Chelsea will do.
"It's devastating I'm sure because it's your first thing out of school and all at once all your dreams are put on hold," said Scott Walrath. "But what can you do?"
Many local colleges have an idea. With hundreds, if not thousands, of college students displaced by Hurricane Katrina, a growing number of colleges are opening their doors to qualifying students who had planned to spend this semester in the South.
Union College is on that list. Spokesman Bill Schwarz said three freshmen who had been accepted by Union but declined in favor of Tulane have contacted the school since the hurricane. Union hadn't been prepared with a response, but is now saying it will do its best to accept students meeting Union academic standards.
"It's not that it's good for Union, it's that we feel it's part of our obligation to respond to a need and a crisis," Schwarz said. "For students who have been displaced, if we can accommodate them and they want to come here, we'll do everything possible to make that possible for them."
At least one Tulane freshman, from New Jersey, will attend Union. Another, from Massachusetts, was still weighing options Friday afternoon. And a third, from Illinois, ultimately decided to go elsewhere.
Zack Feinberg, a Tulane freshman from Westchester County, will be moving into Skidmore College on Sunday. Exactly what he'll move is up for speculation, as most of his possessions, like those of Chelsea Anderson, are locked in a Tulane dorm room.
Feinberg and his father, Glen Feinberg, had a bizarre escape from Hurricane Katrina in the pickup truck of a New Orleans native who overheard the pair scrambling for a ride out of town.
"We hitched a ride from a Cajun in a pickup all the way to Houston," Zack Feinberg said.
"He was just a great guy, told us all about the bayou and life on the bayou and his family history," said Glen Feinberg. "Honestly the 12 hours in the car with him was very nice time."
The enjoyment ended last Monday, the day after the Feinbergs got home and the day the hurricane hit.
Zack said he realized he wouldn't be making a quick return to Tulane "when I turned on the TV and saw that New Orleans was six feet under water and there was chaos."
The Feinbergs started calling all the schools Zack had applied to. Some were less than helpful.
"We called NYU and they wouldn't even talk to us. . . . And we called Boston University and they wouldn't talk to us," said Glen Feinberg.
Their luck changed with a call to American University, which "immediately said they would accept Zack," said the elder Feinberg. Skidmore was also helpful, and Zack said he is happy to attend until Tulane re-opens.
"We'll be there Sunday. We haven't even seen the place but I'm sure it's nice," said Glen Feinberg.
The University at Albany also announced Friday that it will assist college students whose plans have been disrupted by the devastation on the Gulf Coast and also set up a relief fund.
As of Friday, four students who were affected by the hurricane had taken advantage of the offer by the university.
UAlbany spokesman Michael Parker said one student had planned to transfer to a college in the Gulf area; another had been accepted at UAlbany and also at Tulane University.
The university will also allow flexibility in admissions procedures, tuition and other financing and scheduling to expedite the application of the "visiting students."
It will accommodate students so they can take classes at the university and will also offer tuition assistance if a student is facing hardships as a result of the hurricane.
The arrangement is in its early stages and was still evolving late Friday afternoon, said university officials.
Zack Feinberg said he is grateful to Skidmore, but he can't hide at least some of his disappointment. He is quick to point out that Skidmore will consider him "a visiting student from Tulane."
"I'm going from New Orleans, which is maybe the biggest party city in the world, to a field in upstate New York," he said. "Even though I'm sure it's a very nice field in upstate New York."