Penn reaches out to storm victims

The Penn community—administration, faculty, staff and students—is doing its part to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Not long after the scope of storm damage became clear, Penn moved quickly to organize programs that will allow local students to continue their educations and help hurricane victims rebuild their lives. Penn students have also mobilized and launched a number of relief efforts.

“We mourn the victims of this terrible tragedy and commit ourselves to finding solutions to help the survivors rediscover hope and rebuild shattered lives,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said after the storm.

Penn has opened its doors for the semester to students who had been enrolled at colleges and universities in the Gulf Coast communities affected by Katrina. The University has accepted 100 of these students, and has waived tuition requirements so the students can continue to pay their regular schools. The students—who are from the Philadelphia area—will be able to attend Penn through the fall semester and transfer their credits back to their home universities.

“We felt it important to offer students from the Philadelphia area as much continuity as we can until they can resume studies at their home institution,” Gutmann said.
The University will also help ease the financial strain on families of Penn students who are from Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana by providing tuition account advances and deferments and waiving late penalties. The University will review students’ financial aid packages and provide help to those who need it.

Meanwhile, after many Penn staffers inquired about helping out in the Gulf Coast recovery effort, the University announced it would offer three weeks paid leave to faculty and staff who wish to volunteer for the various organizations assisting in the cleanup.

The Penn student body is doing its part as well. The University’s College Houses have adopted a family in the New Orleans area and are collecting money and certain essentials—everything from clothing to bedding to painkillers and shaving cream—to help hurricane victims. Individual houses are also running their own individual programs. Students from the Penn Newman Center have raised more than $600, Wharton MBA students have organized a fundraising drive through the Red Cross, the Penn soccer teams are gathering essentials for donation and the Student Nurses at Penn group have donated 25 pairs of scrubs to the LSU medical center.

To find out how you can help join other Penn staffers in the Hurricane Katrina recovery, go to www.upenn.edu/pennnews/hurricane.php.

Originally published on September 22, 2005