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Black Colleges Join Katrina Aid Mission

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Black Colleges Join Katrina Aid Mission

Education

Black Colleges Join Katrina Aid Mission

Black Colleges Join Katrina Aid Mission

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Historically black colleges and universities are joining in the effort to provide aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

ED GORDON, host:

This is NEWS & NOTES. I'm Ed Gordon.

For thousands of college students, Hurricane Katrina's timing couldn't have been worse. The hurricane and flooding arrived at the start of the fall semester. Floods isolated two historically black institutions in New Orleans, Dillard and Xavier Universities. At Xavier, 400 students were trapped in dormitories for days before the National Guard rescued them. From member station WUNC, Leoneda Inge reports that schools around the country are now stepping in and offering to enroll displaced students.

LEONEDA INGE reporting:

Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, North Carolina, welcomed 228 new students, one of its largest incoming classes in years. Each young woman, wearing a white dress, was presented to the school and to Bennett President Johnnetta Cole. Cole told the assembly she couldn't move forward with her charge to students until she addressed an issue of greater importance, the lives of young people in the path of Hurricane Katrina.

President JOHNNETTA COLE (Bennett College for Women): And we must, of course, think especially of those who look like and are just like you, my Bennett sisters, students of the various universities throughout that region. And while it's not possible to care at this point more for any life over another, we are particularly conscious of the circumstances of students at our historically black universities.

INGE: Bennett College is one of many that have opened its doors to those students now without a school. Arthur Affleck heads Bennett's Development Office. He says it's important to restore some routine to the lives of affected students, especially students of color.

Mr. ARTHUR AFFLECK (Development Office, Bennett College): Their lives are disrupted if they can't continue college, and some of them may not get back into college if they stay out a whole semester. So we want to at least offer them a place.

INGE: To help keep students enrolled, the United Negro College Fund has launched a special campaign for Dillard and Xavier Universities as well as Tougaloo College in Mississippi. And the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education is working with universities across the country to find room for displaced New Orleans students. BlackAmericaWeb.com reports several institutions, including the City Colleges of Chicago, Hampton University and Texas Southern are making room. Some states are accommodating returning natives. The University of North Carolina system is temporarily enrolling students from the state who had been attending hurricane-shuttered institutions. Hundreds of displaced students have expressed interest. Like Bennett College, historically black North Carolina Central University in Durham is taking some in.

Ms. LUANN EDMONDS-HARRIS (North Carolina Central University): Whether it's this week or if it's the next semester, we want to let them know that NCCU is here and ready to receive.

INGE: Luann Edmonds-Harris works in admissions at North Carolina Central. She says the university has heard from about 15 students, mostly from Dillard and Xavier, interested in attending this term. Edmonds-Harris says she expects more interest next year.

Ms. EDMONDS-HARRIS: Some don't know what the future's going to hold for their schools in January and if they even want to go back to a city that may be just still in turmoil in January. So we're working with them case by case.

INGE: North Carolina Central and many other schools are posting distance education courses on their Web sites, courses available to students so they can stay on track, wherever they are. For NPR News, I'm Leoneda Inge in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

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