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Campus Life

BU holds emergency registration for Tulane students

110 sign up, more expected

MET set up a table in the hallway to accommodate the small crowd of students from Tulane who came to register at BU on Labor Day. Photo by Fred Sway

As BU’s incoming freshmen streamed out of Matriculation ceremonies with an eye on the future yesterday, a weary Robert Bernstein sat in the registration office at Metropolitan College contemplating the present and guarding an armful of registration materials.

Last Sunday he was in Tennessee on his way from his home in Connecticut to Tulane University in New Orleans when he heard that school would be closed for at least a week. As news of the devastation poured in, it became clear that another plan was needed. He turned around and headed home. A short time later, he heard from a friend enrolling at BU this fall that his tuition payment to Tulane would be honored here.

Grateful for the opportunity, Bernstein is still focused on the fate of friends and the future of New Orleans. “The hardest thing has been the lack of communication,” he says.

Many harried but hopeful students who had planned to enter Tulane this fall have been welcomed at Boston University in the past several days and a quickly organized registration is being held for them at Metropolitan College (MET).

MET, the University’s school of continuing education, is in the unique position of working regularly with all of BU’s other schools. When University leaders announced Friday that BU would accept incoming Tulane students displaced by Hurricane Katrina, MET naturally stepped in to organize registration. While the Tulane students technically will enroll at MET, academic advisors from around BU are on hand there to help students sign up for courses around the University.

“It really was a collaborative effort,” says Carl Sessa, MET assistant dean of student and academic affairs. “We tried to break down barriers, and I think we successfully did that.”

As of 3 p.m. yesterday, more than 110 students from all over the country who had planned to enter Tulane had arrived on Commonwealth Avenue, hoping to start classes right away and not get behind. Anne Shea, vice president for enrollment and student affairs, estimates that BU eventually may see as many as 200 Tulane students enroll here.

Staff from across the University, including the Office of the University Registrar, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, the Dean of Students Office, and the University Service Center, worked several 12-hour days and unexpected hours on Labor Day to hold the registration drive. Staff from many BU schools remained on-call throughout the process.

Susan Jackson, College of Arts and Sciences associate dean and a professor of modern foreign languages, spent Sunday and Monday at MET helping students choose courses relevant to their Tulane degree programs. “Many of them have been clever enough to keep a hard copy of their Tulane course schedule, which is helpful since Tulane’s computers are down," she says. "I’d say that 99 percent of them have been impressively buoyant. . . . And I’m getting to know Tulane’s curriculum very well.”

The MET office was abuzz with students and some of their parents on Labor Day, including student Kimber Rudzis, of Washington D.C. She had been living with relatives in New Orleans for the summer in anticipation of the school year, and escaped by car with her three roommates on Aug. 28, just before mandatory evacuation of the city was announced. She drove to her relatives’ home in Jacksonville, Fla., and plotted a new course of action. Other schools she contacted weren’t very accommodating, she found, but investigated BU because she had applied here. Her biggest challenge this semester may be finding a Boston apartment.

“I love Boston, but New Orleans is my home,” she said, hoping to return to Tulane, which may not be able to offer classes before next year.

BU officials report that most Tulane students are successfully finding off-campus housing in Boston; still, many members of the University community have offered to house students in need. (Such offers should be directed to the Office of the Dean of Students.) In addition, the Office of Financial Assistance is helping Tulane students access federal Stafford loans to cover living expenses.

The office also is providing emergency assistance to BU students from the New Orleans area. “So far, I’ve heard from about 10 BU students from around there,” says Christine McGuire, director of the Office of Financial Assistance. “We’re working with them to identify what both their short-term and long-term needs might be, and delivering to them additional assistance. Some students have asked for money for clothes.”

A system to register the students as visiting undergraduates for the fall semester was created within hours of BU’s decision to accept the students. If the students have paid Tulane their first semester’s tuition, they can attend BU at no charge, but must make their own living arrangements. Classes start today, but Tulane students have until Sept. 12 to begin their courses.

BU’s professional schools also are opening their doors. The School of Law, for instance, holds an orientation for 22 third-year Tulane law students today, the School of Management held a similar session yesterday, the School of Social Work has taken on at least one graduate student, and the School of Medicine, which as of Sunday had five requests for admission from Tulane students, “will provide a spot for them if their medical school requests it,” says Medical Campus Provost and MED Dean Karen Antman.

In a September 2 statement to the University community, Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore applauded numerous fundraising efforts taking place around BU. "I ask for your patience for a few more days until we have the opportunity to inform ourselves regarding the greatest needs of the Gulf Coast area. . . ." he writes. "Next week President Brown and upper-level administrators will be discussing how best our fundraising efforts can be coordinated to serve the victims of this tragedy in the most effective manner. I will inform you then how students, employees, and alumni may help."

Added President Brown, in a separate statement: "I am confident I speak for all of Boston University in expressing our deepest sympathies to the victims and families affected by this disaster. We all hope that through aid from local, federal and philanthropic support the region will rapidly recover from this natural disaster."

For more information about the relief effort and emergency enrollment procedures, visit www.bu.edu/katrina.

David J. Craig contributed to this report.