Christina Council fled New Orleans two days before she could witness the devastation Hurricane Katrina left on her school, Xavier University of Louisiana. The 20-year-old left the campus of 4,121 students to seek refuge in her hometown of Trenton, N.J. But now Council has another challenge: adapting to Temple.
“I just miss my freedom, having my own apartment, my friends and campus,” she said. “I’m just trying to adjust to Temple. It’s so much bigger than Xavier.”
Council, a biology major, will commute to Temple from Trenton. Council knows where her friends and family are, and that they are safe.
“Most went back home to take classes, work and figure out what to do next,” Council said.
When the hurricane hit, Council’s life was put on hold.
“It’s my senior year. This pushes my graduation back to August, which is going to mess up my medical school applications,” Council said. “It’s just been really frustrating.”
Council was disappointed with the government’s response to the hurricane.
“It was ridiculous how long it took for help to come, there was no excuse,” Council said. “We were able to help the tsunami [victims], but not our own people. The media made it worse, showing that people were looting, when they were just trying to survive.”
Last Thursday, the Division of Student Affairs sponsored an orientation dinner for the 43 students evacuated from the Gulf Region now attending the university. The dinner was held in The Underground, an entertainment facility located in the new addition of the Student Center. Temple students from the region affected by the hurricane also attended the dinner.
Rachel Brown, 19, a displaced student from the University of New Orleans, attended the dinner. Brown is living with her uncle on South Broad Street until she can find a place of her own.
“The people of Philadelphia are so nice. It’s a diverse atmosphere with a lot of culture,” Brown said.
She does not know how long she will be in Philadelphia, and said she misses her home university.
“I miss the spicy foods back home,” Brown said.
Members of the Owl Team, a team of student leaders from the Office of Orientation, dedicated their time to get to know the new students. Members of Campus Crusade for Christ, a student organization, were also present.
“We’re here meeting any needs, and to supply spiritual comfort to the students, helping them get plugged into the campus,” Campus Crusade for Christ President Ben Honeyford said.
Patrick Day, the assistant vice president of student affairs, welcomed the new students, speaking about moving forward and supporting each other.
“We’re glad you’re here at Temple University,” Day said. “We want you to leave this room ensured you will have a successful semester and beyond,” Day told the students.
Administrators from campus departments such as Computer Services and Campus Safety Services also attended.
The beginning of the orientation consisted of the Owl Team introducing themselves and offering their friendship and help to the new students. Many of the students came from Xavier University, Tulane University and the University of New Orleans.
The students listened to the speakers from the different departments. Areas covered were information about transferring, funds to help the student’s expenses, housing and counseling services. Day announced that roughly $10,000 had been raised to aid the evacuees.
Peter Seltzer, 20, a student at the University of New Orleans, said he also is enjoying his time in Philadelphia.
“I love it. I’ve always wanted to come,” Seltzer said. “It’s like New York but less crowded. Everybody has been so nice.”
The business entrepreneurship major arrived about a week ago and is now living in 1300, one of the on-campus housing options. He will be attending Temple for one semester.
Christy Zendt, 20, of Tulane University, flew to Philadelphia last Wednesday to live with her aunt.
“I miss the food in New Orleans, the streets and the atmosphere,” said Zendt, an art major. She plans to return to New Orleans in December.
Jessica Smeriglio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.