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Princeton Helps Kick In Hurricane Relief

December 19, 2005

Arthur Nead

Tulane students spending the fall semester at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J., answered the call to help Louisiana and the Gulf Coast recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
Twenty-four Tulane undergraduate students were warmly welcomed at Princeton, according to Caleb Dance, a Tulane senior majoring in classics and philosophy. The students were introduced to student life at Princeton, but they also were encouraged by the university's undergraduate student affairs department to form a community within the larger Princeton community and keep alive their identity as Tulane students.

"We became a known group on campus," says Dance. "We were all assigned to live in the same residence hall, Henry Hall."

To encourage the students to remain connected with each other, Princeton made funds available for the Tulane contingent to enjoy "study breaks," a Princeton tradition.

"At Princeton, these are programs once every couple of weeks in the evening, when we go someplace for an hour, or an hour and a half," says Dance. "We get to sit and relax and talk about things other than school."

Not surprisingly, food is a focus at study breaks. The students have enjoyed study breaks at restaurants featuring such delicacies as hoagies, make-your-own burritos, hamburgers and sushi. But amid the food came discussions of how to get involved in the local relief efforts.

"Shortly after the Tulane students arrived on campus, there were a lot of Princeton fundraisers seeking donations from students for Katrina relief," says Dance. "And we thought that at some point in the semester we could do some sort of community service."

Dance conferred with Thomas Dunne, associate dean of undergraduate students, about their plan. "He recommended that I contact the athletics department and do a collection on Nov. 12, the day of the Princeton-Yale football game, which is always a big draw," says Dance.

Dance and other Tulane students decided to set up tables in a high-visibility, high-traffic area near the ticket purchasing windows at Princeton University Stadium.

"The support from Princeton was unbelievable,' says Dance.

The university provided tables for the fundraising booths, and the athletics department came forward with an added incentive for donors to the Tulane Katrina fund--it offered a free Princeton athletics T-shirt to anyone who donated $10 or more. In addition, Nick Konawalik, the athletics department's director of marketing, issued a press release to publicize the fundraiser to the Princeton community.

More than 20,000 people attended the game, and their response to the Tulane appeal was very good, according to Dance, with approximately $700 collected that day. The students have placed the funds in the Princeton University Coordinated Undergraduate Fund for Hurricane Katrina Relief. "We spoke with the undergraduate affairs office," says Dance, "and they recommended that we put the money we raised in the coordinated fund, for now. Then we--one or two Tulane people--will be a part of the decision process on which charities will receive the money."

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000