St. John’s reaches out to hurricane victims

St. John’s is providing free tuition to displaced New York students who are enrolled in universities in the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. Students from Tulane, Xavier, and Loyola University have already accepted the offer.

“Reaching out to those in need is a part of St. John’s Vincentian tradition,” said Matthew Whelan, Undergraduate Director of Admissions. “This is a way for the students to come to class, continue their education, and avoid any more disruption.”

An orientation will be held this Friday for the 30 students who have been enrolled in St. John’s. Faculty members from the Freshman Center, Student Life, Office of Admissions and Campus Ministry will attend to welcome the students.

“They’ve been through a lot and they lost a lot,” Whelan said.

“There will be a human judgment to blame but people must elevate over that and remember the dignity in people,” said Father James Maher, interim vice president.

The sluggish arrival of help has been as controversial and perhaps as widely reported as the hurricane’s devastation. Local governments are pointing the finger at state governments, who are pointing their finger at the federal government. President George W. Bush recently took responsibly of the slow reaction and the devastation caused to so many.

“We’re paying so much attention to issues overseas that we’ve forgotten about our own people. It’s definitely a wake up,” Loren Bennett, a junior Education major, said

Even though the situation was believed to be mishandled that does not change the need to help those effected.

“I am confident that I speak for our entire University community in saying our thoughts and prayers are with those who are suffering,” University President Father Donald J. Harrington, C. M.

Large containers have been placed at the front desk of every residence hall. Attached is a piece of paper that reads, “Open your hearts and your wallets to help aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina, throw in your change!”

Amanda Pourciau, a Terrytown, Louisiana resident, is one St. John’s student directly effect by Katrina. Her family is still alive, but part of their house’s roof is missing. She still plans on visiting them as soon as she can.

“I’m going home during Thanksgiving,” she said.

So far students have been generous with donations. 

“I was in O’Connor yesterday and students have put in more singles than change,” Therese Despeine, who works at the front desk of the residence halls, said.

The money that is collected will be donated to the Red Cross, which was one of the first organizations to react quickly to help the hurricane’s victims.

“We want to be supportive and let people know we’re here to help,” Father Maher said. “This city knows what it’s like, and they helped us when we needed it most.”