As the fall semester comes to an end, displaced students from Hurricane Katrina must ask themselves this question: "Do I stay at my new adopted school or return to my original college?
Jessica Taylor, a junior English major was due to start school at Xavier University this fall but went to Howard University instead.
“At first everything was up in the air but now I’m settled in at Howard. I’ve made friends. It’s hard to think about leaving,” said Taylor, “but I’m going back. That’s my home. My family is there.”
Universities in the New Orleans area are counting on students to return in order to bring in much needed revenue. According to the Washington Post, after Katrina, colleges around the country took in an estimated 18,000 displaced New Orleans students.
“I’m taking a couple of classes at community college, I’m hoping to transfer to a college around here,” said Angel Mooney who would have been a sophomore at Tulane University, but now resides in Florida. “I started a life here. I have a job and a place to stay. Why go back? I have nothing there.”
Feelings like that was what many universities in New Orleans were afraid of. In addition, the American Council on Education only allowed universities to except students for one semester and now the semester is over.
”We’re sort of in this moral, ethical dilemma here,” said Esther Gulli, chief of staff to the vice chancellor for student affairs at Berkeley, to the Washington Post.
”These students have been through a great deal here, and obviously they’re just trying to look for a little consistency in their lives. But our agreements with their schools were when they were open and ready for business we would send their students back.”
To help attract students back, world-renowned trumpeter and New Orleans native Wynton Marsalis will appear at several universities to help celebrate their reopening, as well as political analyst Cokie Roberts and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford.
“Students need to return to the city. I understand it’s hard to leave especially if you were a freshman and never had a chance to get use to it,” said Taylor, “But our city needs us. In addition, New Orleans is the place to be. You’ll see.”