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An Education in Survival

Hilary Hurd Anyaso

An Education in Survival

By the time you read this edition of Diverse, we will have been living with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for just under one month. We have all been devastated and moved by the images we saw on television — a flooded New Orleans, destroyed homes and most
importantly the hurricane survivors.

When aid to the residents in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, which to many of us came “a day late and a dollar short,” we wondered whether the race and ethnicity of the evacuees played a role in what seemed to be a lackadaisical approach regarding the urgency of this disaster.

Regardless of what you think about the federal government’s efforts, the generosity of the corporate world, colleges and universities, churches, charitable organizations, local communities across the United States and individuals who have opened their homes, hearts and wallets to aid those in need, has been phenomenal.

I was on vacation the week of the hurricane, but I was pleased to come back and find countless e-mails from colleges and universities who are opening their doors to students with nowhere to go. All schools, large and small, public and private, are really doing their best to accommodate the students affected. Tuition is being waived in some cases, prayer vigils are being held, counseling services are being provided — really a tremendous effort is underway.

NAFEO, representing the Black college community, earlier this month launched the HBCU Visiting Student-Evacuee Program, which is designed to immediately connect and enroll students from Dillard, Southern University at New Orleans and Xavier into another HBCU or member institution. And the UNCF has established a special fund to assist their students and faculty at member schools. You can visit their respective Web sites at and for more information.

The far-reaching effects of the hurricane seem endless. In addition to the displacement of faculty, staff and students, conferences scheduled in New Orleans had to be canceled, and we even heard about a Tulane professor who literally lost all of her research because her computer and related files were destroyed in the floodwaters.

As scholars, I’m sure many of you have thought about the many issues this natural disaster uncovered in regards to race, class, politics, demographics, the environment, urban planning, etc. We plan to address many of these issues in upcoming editions as we anticipate feeling the effects of the hurricane for some time to come.

Although recent news events have overshadowed a lot of things, including news coverage, this issue is our Hispanic Focus edition. Contributing editor Dina M. Horwedel reports on Baruch College’s Black and Hispanic studies programs, which are housed together as a single department. How do these two programs co-exist? Senior writer Ronald Roach looks at the increasing number of Black colleges that are reaching out to Latino students; Kristin Bagnato reports on whether colleges and universities are indeed ready for the influx of Latino students that are expected to enroll in the years to come according to demographic projections; and contributing editor Lydia Lum profiles Dr. Wallace Loh, the dean of arts and sciences at Seattle University, who talks about the challenges of growing up Chinese in Peru. It was a childhood where Loh at times he felt like he didn’t fit in, perhaps that’s why he’s long been dedicated to diversity.

Hilary Hurd Anyaso

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