Home > Personal > Trying to Help Students, Bunches at a Time

Trying to Help Students, Bunches at a Time

September 7th, 2005

Today I represented GPSS at a meeting of campus-wide administrators discussing how to prepare, process, and provide services to student evacuees from the schools closed by hurricane Katrina. The meeting gave me a glimpse of the complexity of disaster planning, and I am beginning to understand how FEMA could have gone so horribly wrong with their disaster management. If you can imagine, representatives from the President’s Office, the Office of undergraduate Education, College of Arts & Sciences, Financial Aid, the Registrars Office, Housing and Food Services, Gateway Center (Undergraduate Advising), the Graduate School, Student Fiscal Services, the Provost Office, and five student representatives all trying to figure out what needed to be done!?

Thankfully, the meeting went pretty well thanks to the excellent leadership displayed by the President’s Special Assistant, Dr. Kravas, who did an incredibly job keeping things together and focused. Of course, there are still lots of unanswered questions, like what are we going to charge for tuition, where are they going to live, how are they going to register for classes (consider: if you don’t start the pChem series this quarter, you lose an entire year, and suddenly your four year biochem degree becomes a five year program), how we are going to get financial aid, or what we are even calling them. Some like the term non-matriculated student, others prefer transfer… I like Visiting Scholar, only because it sounds like an enviable position and thus something to be proud of.

Graduate Students are going to be an even tougher situation. Each graduate student is a very unique case, with special funding considerations and research needs, and while universities may be roughly comparable, departments are so unique that one can’t just transfer from Tulane PoliSci and expect the UW to provide everything that is needed. Grad students also rely quite a bit on state support or grants. Washington State cannot provide support to non-residents and most federal grants are tied to a lab, not a student, and those labs are currently back in Louisiana and under 6 feet of water. The only good news about graduate students is that a great deal of Universities are prepared to take grads, so hopefully the number arriving will be relatively low and we can provide the necessary support to those who do come here.

As a welcoming gesture, and a smart political move, the GPSS Officers have agreed to sponsor a resolution allotting a GPSS Senator Seat to the evacuee students so that they can have an official voice in the student governments. The UW can always benefit from a little more bottom-up information flow. Hopefully we can find a student who would be interested in filling the seat and coordinating the students.

But a word to FEMA, should you happen to come upon my blog. The UW has a reason to be in disarray as we plan for this… we aren’t setup to do this sort of thing. FEMA exists for the very purpose of preparing for emergencies. Stop worrying about vague terrorists threats and start focusing on things we KNOW will happen and thanks to global warming are only going to get worse.

probonogeek Personal

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.