Colgate Comes Up Short

To The Editor:

For the past two weeks, Americans have been reeling in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. We watch the news and we struggle to comprehend the magnitude of this event, and the enormous loss of life and the indefinite displacement of hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents. We ache to support Katrina’s victims in any way that we can.

And then things go back to normal for those of us who are farther away. It’s already happening. As with many crises, we absorb the initial shock, but it later gives way to the demands of our everyday lives that go on relatively unaffected.

This is especially true within the confines of the “Colgate bubble.” The Colgate community is like a self-supporting family, its spirit largely impenetrable to outside forces. We, too, took refuge there for four years, and of that we are proud

Therefore, we commend the Colgate community for its financial contributions to the Katrina relief effort underway in the Gulf Coast region. We know that the students, faculty, and staff will rally to support these efforts.

We also know that many Americans wish that they could give more than just money. Many want to roll up their sleeves and give with their hands and their hearts – not just to a relief organization but to a real person whose life has been forever changed, a family whose home is gone, or a student whose school is now closed.

Colgate University has such an opportunity. We ask Colgate to set the bar high and meet this challenge.

Here’s a look at what some other schools are doing to aid these displaced students:

– Cornell University has plans to admit at least 200 Tulane undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students;

– Syracuse University is now working to arrange class schedules and local housing for 300 students from Tulane;

– Boston College has accepted approximately 150 undergraduate students from Loyola and Tulane Universities;

– Both Harvard College and Harvard Law School intend to accept 25 students;

– Patriot League rival, Bucknell University, has enrolled 19 students and has extended offers to another 19 students;

– Clarkson University is offering immediate enrollment to up to 20 students;

– Le Moyne College will accept approximately 20 students;

– RPI will take in up to 100 students.

Colgate’s score? Two.

We are surprised and disappointed to learn that Colgate’s policy toward accepting Katrina-displaced students has effectively limited its helping hand to only two students from Tulane University. Currently, only students who applied previously to Colgate and were accepted will be considered. We believe that this standard has proved too restrictive and ought to be changed. Colgate can and should do more.

While we understand that housing and academic constraints complicate the effort, these obstacles are surmountable and should not weaken Colgate’s resolve to make it work. If other schools can do more, why can’t Colgate?

With all due respect, just do it. If displaced students have looked to Colgate for help, make the decision to put these kids in a classroom. Is it harder than it sounds? Of course. We recognize that. But Hurricane Katrina was an exceptional crisis not just for the Gulf Coast, but for the entire country. Let’s show the Colgate spirit and be exceptional in our response.


Lise Lynam ’00Adam Paulson ’00