Tulane students must return to La.

Tulane University students displaced by Hurricane Katrina who have spent this semester at Yale must return to New Orleans for the spring semester, the Yale College Dean’s Office announced Thursday.

Tulane is prepared to reenroll students in January, so the 10 students who spent the fall semester in Yale’s Non-Degree Student Program will be expected to matriculate at Tulane, Yale College Assistant Dean William Whobrey said Thursday. One student from the University of New Orleans took courses at Yale, but no determination has been made about whether she will spend another semester here, Whobrey said.

Tulane freshmen said they had mixed feelings about starting their college careers over at a new institution, even though they had never expected to remain at Yale for the long term.

“Our primary motive here is to respect the wishes of the home institutions,” Whobrey said.

Before developing Yale’s policy, Whobrey said he contacted officials from both universities to determine their plans for the spring. Tulane administrators told him the campus would be ready to house students and hold classes in time for the beginning of the second term.

“They’ve been working very hard to get the campus ready,” Whobrey said. “Tulane was not as heavily damaged … They’re pretty much ship-shape.”

The University of New Orleans has relatively limited on-campus housing, Whobrey said, and the UNO student currently at Yale had her off-campus apartment destroyed by the hurricane. Depending on UNO’s condition in the coming weeks, she may be allowed to spend another semester visiting at Yale, he said.

Before the announcement was released this morning, several freshmen said they would like to remain at Yale, as it has been their first and only college experience. But they said they never expected to be allowed to stay at Yale for another semester.

“I kind of had known that that was their position all along, so I’m not really surprised,” Tulane freshman Emmet Smith said.

During Thanksgiving break, both Smith and freshman Mark MacMurdo visited Tulane’s campus. MacMurdo described the condition of the campus as “fantastic,” although repairs were still being made to the first floors of some buildings.

“You could hardly tell that a hurricane had come through,” MacMurdo said.

Other parts of the city were still littered with debris from the storm, MacMurdo said. Smith said the French Quarter and the Garden District, where Tulane’s campus is located, are visibly recovering from the storm damage, but the rest of the city is still significantly damaged.

“The damage and the extent of the recovery was really proportional to how wealthy a given area was,” Smith said. “Some of the people who didn’t have the means to leave now don’t even have the means to rebuild. There’s a lot more that needs to be done.”

Tulane freshman J.P. Pacelli said he has mixed feelings about returning to New Orleans, but he believes the decision to send students back could help Tulane recover.

“If we were allowed to stay at whatever institution we were at, Tulane … would lose a lot of students,” Pacelli said. “I’m just disappointed I’m leaving, because I’ve made friends here and I’ve established myself.”

The students from Tulane and the University of New Orleans earned credits at Yale that will be transferred to their home institutions, but their grades will not be recorded.

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