Katrina decision expected

As University officials prepare to announce whether Gulf Coast students can remain at Yale for the spring semester, visiting students have mixed feelings about returning to storm-ravaged New Orleans.

With Tulane University preparing to reopen in January, several Tulane freshmen said they are reluctant to leave Yale, while their older peers said they are enthusiastic about returning to their home campuses.

Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said no formal agreement was made with colleges or universities hit by the storm when Yale decided to admit students for the fall semester.

“We wanted to be as helpful as we could possibly be to students affected by the hurricane,” Salovey said. “At the same time, we also will want to be as helpful as we can possibly be to the Gulf State universities when they are ready to reopen and readmit their students.”

Mark MacMurdo, who would have been a freshman at Tulane this year, said he is planning to fill out a transfer application to Yale before next semester, since this has been his only college experience to date. MacMurdo said he knows he might not be allowed to stay.

“The only reason that I think it would be reasonable for me to stay is that I’m a freshman, and I’ve had my freshman experience here,” he said. “I feel more connected to Yale right now than I do to Tulane. It would be kind of weird starting at two different places.”

Like MacMurdo, freshman J.P. Pacelli said he would probably stay at Yale if he were allowed to, but he does not expect that to be possible.

“I’m pretty sure that’s part of the deal,” Pacelli said. “If Tulane is going to open next semester, then we have to go back.”

MacMurdo, who lived in the Davenport Master’s House this semester, said he has reservations about returning to New Orleans when most of the storm damage has not been repaired. But the city will offer students opportunities to participate in the rebuilding, he said.

Pacelli said he made many friends this semester, in addition to pledging the fraternity Alpha Delta Phi. But he said he thought students who have already completed a year or more at Tulane would probably be more excited about returning to school in New Orleans.

“I guarantee that all of the non-freshmen are ridiculously excited to go back,” Pacelli said. “It’s probably a lot easier to say goodbye and go back if you are not a freshman.”

Tulane sophomore Chris Starko said he was thrilled to be returning to New Orleans.

“Not only do I owe it to Tulane to go back, but I love that school,” Starko said. “We are going back to an enormous opportunity beyond an academic education.”

Tulane senior Kym Smith said she is planning to return to Tulane, and graduate from the university in the spring. Smith said she is excited to reunite with friends from Tulane, with whom she has been in contact while the university was closed. Tulane’s Web site includes updates on repairs to campus buildings, Smith said, and her dormitory has already been prepared for students.

“It said everything is coming along really quickly,” Smith said. “They’re working hard to build it back to the way that it was before the hurricane.”

Harvard University’s Undergraduate Council introduced a position paper Nov. 20 asking the school to allow several of the Tulane freshmen who spent the semester at Harvard to apply to transfer permanently before the spring semester, but Harvard administrators have not yet announced whether they will adopt the proposal.

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