Campus rallies relief efforts after hurricane
BY MICHAEL PEÑA
The outpouring from the Stanford community in response to Hurricane Katrina has been immense, ranging from a direct donation from a professor to a student whose family had to flee the Gulf Coast region to an impromptu cubicle collection for an affected office administrator. At the institutional level, the university and individual schools have opened their doors to displaced students, and a special policy has been enacted that will compensate university employees if they take time off for disaster-related volunteer work.Admission and housing assistance
Stanford has offered admission to 36 academically qualified undergraduate students from universities that closed as a result of the hurricane. The temporary students will not be charged tuition here but must continue to pay tuition to their home universities and are expected to return to those campuses at the appropriate time. At Stanford, they will be responsible for covering their room and board and incidental expenses. In at least one case, the Financial Aid Office is working with a student on ways to help cover these costs.
In addition, a handful of Stanford students native to the affected areas have returned early and are being housed for free until the normal start of their student housing contracts, said housing assignment director Todd Benson.
"Like all Americans, members of the Stanford community feel great compassion for the many who have suffered loss and a desire to respond to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina," Hennessy said. "We are committed to helping out in whatever way we can, and we hope these efforts will make a small contribution to the outpouring of relief to victims of this disaster."
Last Thursday, the university received its first application from a graduate student affected by Katrina—a doctoral student from the University of New Orleans who was rescued from the roof of a building by helicopter.
The student, from India, currently resides with a family here in the Bay Area, according to Roger Printup, university registrar and director of student information systems. "I am sure this is the first of many interesting stories that we will be hearing over the next few weeks," Printup said.
The Law School has agreed to admit, on a limited basis, third-year law students from Tulane University's and Loyola University's law schools, which have closed because of damage from the hurricane and flood. The Graduate School of Business will take up to six second-year Tulane MBA students from the San Francisco Bay Area for the fall quarter; and an application is available online for graduate students who wish to apply to the schools of Humanities and Sciences, Education, Earth Sciences and Engineering (http://hurricanekatrina.stanford.edu/graduate).
The university will continue to work with the Association of American Universities and other groups in an effort to coordinate assistance to the academic institutions affected in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast, Hennessy said.Help from hospitals, Medical School
Dr. Philip Pizzo, dean of the School of Medicine, has been in contact with the director of the National Institutes of Health. Pizzo has announced that the Medical School will participate in a coordinated national effort to respond to the medical and health issues caused by the disaster.
Stanford Hospital and Clinics (SHC) and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital (LPCH) are working under the coordination of the American Hospital Association to address medical relief efforts. Both hospitals are gathering teams of dozens of personnel to staff medically enhanced shelters in the southern United States. SHC and LPCH also have sent much-needed medical supplies to the area.Campuswide support
Stanford is allowing employees who wish to volunteer in hurricane-relief efforts the opportunity to do so. Employees approved to participate may take up to one week of leave time, which Stanford will match with a week of paid leave. Requests for leave will need the approval of the employee's supervisor. (See sidebar for more information.)
Meanwhile, a one-hour service—"A Community Gathering of Prayer, Reflection and Call to Action in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina"—is planned for noon Thursday at Memorial Church. The deans and staff in the Office for Religious Life also are providing the campus community a central location and opportunity to support the relief effort by welcoming contributions to the American Red Cross anytime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the week.
A basket is available in the Round Room, directly behind the church, as well as envelopes to enclose checks or cash. Contributions also may be sent through ID mail to MC 2090. The Office for Religious Life will deliver the donations to the local Red Cross office in Palo Alto. Checks are preferred and should be made payable to "American Red Cross."Personal, departmental efforts
On an individual level, Professor Jerry Harris in the Department of Geophysics dipped into his own bank account to assist one of his graduate students, whose entire family was in New Orleans. Her relatives are all safe, but her elderly mother had to be relocated to Los Angeles, and a sister who had just had triple-bypass surgery was initially sheltered in the Louisiana Superdome before National Guard personnel transferred her out.
Through an appeal to his colleagues in the School of Earth Sciences, Harris has managed to raise several thousand dollars more to help offset his student's mounting expenses.
"Of course this isn't the best way to provide relief to the thousands in need, but it is a personal gesture to help one of our own students at a time of severe emotional and financial need," Harris wrote to his colleagues.
Harris also attended a meeting last Wednesday at the Black Community Services Center (BCSC) regarding relief efforts. Several dozen attendees—graduate students, staff and faculty representing a broad mix of ethnic backgrounds—brainstormed on how best to channel their time and energy. The gathering was largely pulled together by Sally Dickson, associate vice provost for faculty development and associate dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences; Denise Flowers, an administrative associate in the Department of Biological Sciences; and Jan Barker-Alexander, assistant dean of student affairs and BCSC director.
Barker-Alexander, a Louisiana native whose family is in Baton Rouge and safe from danger, said the strong ties that many African Americans at Stanford have to the South—and the sense of service inherent among student affairs staff—compelled her to mobilize an effort that would provide not only immediate assistance but also sustained support as families and communities begin the process of rebuilding in the months ahead.
With the help of students from the Graduate School of Business and Stanford Students for Relief, which raised about $75,000 for the victims of the southeast Asian tsunami last winter, this newest coalition will establish donation drop-off sites on campus, maintain a website and, essentially, supplement the university's assistance at the institutional level with grassroots muscle.
"The one common denominator is that we are all part of the Stanford family," said Barker-Alexander, a graduate of Louisiana State University. "Since we all know our privilege of being at Stanford, it's a matter of how can we leverage the resources here to respond during a national tragedy."
The Katrina Relief @ Stanford website is http://katrinahelp.stanford.edu, and the coalition meets again today at noon in Tresidder Union's Oak East room.
At the Arrillaga Alumni Center, staff have collected cash and check donations, as well as food and clothing, for a coworker who was in New Orleans for a family wedding when Katrina hit. After being evacuated and sheltered for a week, the administrative associate returned to California with her immediate family and 10 additional relatives whose homes had been completely destroyed.
The Stanford Alumni Association has set up a website—http://www.stanfordalumni.org/comm/katrina.html—to link the hundreds of alumni along the Gulf Coast who can offer clothing, shelter or work to alumni in need.
At the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, the group Disaster Relief at SLAC—also formed after the tsunami—will hold a "Mardi Gras Fundraiser" featuring Cajun cuisine on Thursday, Sept. 22, on the front lawn of the facility's administration and engineering building. Los Altos caterer Jeff Machado will donate food for 500 meals, and organizers are asking for a $20 donation at the door in hopes of raising $10,000 that will then go to the American Red Cross. Organizers plan to hold two seatings, at 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.; early ticket purchase is encouraged. To buy tickets, or to make pledges or donations, contact any of the individuals listed at http://www.draslac.org/katrinalunch.html.
The Athletics Department will be accepting contributions toward relief efforts at women's volleyball, men's soccer and football events. Boxes will be placed at venue entrances to collect public donations, which will go to the American Red Cross.
The Stanford Golf Course will be opened to the public for the first time for a fundraiser on Monday, Sept. 19. All proceeds from green fees and carts will go to the American Red Cross. Tee times for the event have sold out, and an estimated $30,000 in aid is anticipated.
In the days ahead, Stanford officials will continue to assess the university's role in supporting relief efforts, Hennessy said. For updates, visit the web at http://hurricanekatrina.stanford.edu.