Some incoming freshmen not discouraged by disaster

As relief efforts continue in Tuscaloosa from the EF-4 tornado, freshmen who plan to attend The University of Alabama in the fall said the recent disaster has not discouraged them from joining The Crimson Tide.

“The recent tornado in Tuscaloosa has not affected my decision to attend Alabama, because when I visited Bama, the community was so welcoming and friendly, and now after the tragedy, I feel that everyone there will be even more friendly and more willing to lend a helping hand,” incoming freshman Hunter Bailey said.

The University said it’s making a conscious effort of contacting incoming students and their parents.

“The University is reaching out to accepted students and their parents to let them know that the campus is fully functional, and that interim term, summer terms, orientation and the fall semester will begin as scheduled,” Cathy Andreen, director of media relations, said. “We are communicating that all academic and support services are fully operational, and our residence halls, academic buildings and support services are open and fully functional.”

Another incoming freshman, Jay Kennedy, said his biggest concern was making sure his family in Tuscaloosa were all safe.

“I have a couple family members in the area, and the biggest concern was for them and my family’s safety,” Kennedy said. “All of my life I’ve been going to The University of Alabama, and it was less of a question whether or not I was going to be there. The bigger questions was how can I get down there sooner and help the process, because it’s home to me. It never affected my decision of whether or not I was going to be at Alabama.”

After Hurricane Katrina flooded more than 80 percent of Tulane’s campus in 2005, Mike Strecker, director of public relations at Tulane, said about 88 percent of the students returned to campus in the spring after closing for the fall semester.

To keep the students informed at Tulane, students and parents were allowed to enter into a live virtual chat with President Scott Cowen.

During the chat one parent asked, “Can you break down, by percentage, the number of kids returning? (My daughter is an incoming freshman.)”

The president responded and said, “Based on information we have today at least 87 percent of our undergraduates will be returning in January. And that includes 80 percent of the first-year class.”

As far as the future, Kennedy said his parents have talked about basic aspects of what to do during a tornado.

“We’ve just talked about basic tornado safety guidelines, and to make sure I’m always aware of the weather of what’s going on and where I need to be in the event that this happens,” Kennedy said. “It’s the basic stuff that you’re taught: stay away from windows and get to the first floor. There was nothing really beyond that that we talked about.”

As for returning students, the University is also providing information for them as well.

“We have also communicated to all students that normal operations have resumed,” Andreen said. “UA staff and administrators are working with rental property owners to identify quality housing options for our students who need that information. We will continue to communicate that information over the coming weeks.”

As for Bailey, he said he’s looking forward to coming to the University and sharing The Capstone experience.

“The tornado, luckily, has not directly affected my life, and I am terribly sorry for all who have been badly affected by the tornado,” Bailey said. “I hope that this does not drastically affect my experience next year, and I am sure it won't.”

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