Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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UW keeps 9 Katrina refugees

A year after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast and left thousands of college students stranded, nine students who temporarily transferred to the University of Wisconsin have decided to continue their education in Madison.

Katie Nix was set on starting her education at Tulane University in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck. A native of Racine, she immediately returned home to attend UW, but decided to return to Tulane after one semester.

"It was really hard," Nix said of her decision to return to Tulane last spring. "I was really happy, but I felt a sense of duty to return back."

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Saying she felt she should give Tulane a try, Nix added that she did not want to back out on her original plans to head south. This fall, however, she is returning to Madison, saying she feels more comfortable coming back after a semester at Tulane.

"I just wanted to come back," she said, admitting she's very happy with her decision. "I like Madison better than New Orleans."

Tulane is in a part of New Orleans that was not hit too hard by the hurricane, Nix said. Still, though, she said life was a bit different post-Katrina.

"Garbage pick-up was sporadic," she said. "A lot of businesses weren't open either."

However, when she left Tulane in July, she said there was really "no difference" in the campus or the French Quarter before the storm to 11 months later. She did acknowledge that much of the rest of the city is still struggling.

Like Nix, Becky Otten of Brookfield was ready to begin school at Tulane in September 2005. She came back and attended UW-Milwaukee last fall but decided to return to the South last spring and will continue there this fall.

"I knew that Tulane was the place for me," Otten said, "even more so after Hurricane Katrina."

Otten added the tragedy of the hurricane brought her opportunities to help out her new community.

"During spring semester I went down to the Ninth Ward about once a month to help gut houses," she said. "It was so amazing, hearing their stories and actually seeing firsthand what happened."

Most students can apply to transfer their UW credits from Wisconsin to their principle institution. Wisconsin, however, may request reimbursement from the student's home school where tuition was originally paid.

Of the nine displaced students who are staying at Madison, the university says seven are from Wisconsin, one is from California and one is an international student.

Shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast last year, the UW Board of Regents unanimously approved a resolution waiving tuition for students whose educational plans were affected by the hurricane.

Students who elect to stay at UW-Madison or any other UW school, however, must retroactively pay the university for their prior stay at UW, including last fall. Therefore, students will essentially be paying twice the normal tuition this fall to reimburse the school for fall 2005.

According to the UW System, Wisconsin schools took in 64 students for the fall 2005 semester, and 14 of those students chose to stay through the spring semester.

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