Vassar Today

Studying Hurricane Katrina

By Amy Boggs ’07

When a disaster as big as Hurricane Katrina hits, it is impossible for any community to remain untouched. Vassar College is no exception.

Even as they were in the midst of moving back to campus, students’ reactions were instantaneous, raising funds and awareness with a candlelit vigil; a comedy show; a food, clothing, and toiletry drive by the ALANA center; various campus parties; a series of panel discussions led by faculty and students; and many other events. Along with supporting immediate responses, Vassar is determined not to let Hurricane Katrina be forgotten in a few months’ time.

Head of the Urban Studies Department and Associate Professor of Sociology Pinar Batur is planning, with help from students Lindsey Caruso ’07 and Rebecca Weinberg ’06, a course for the Spring 2006 semester titled “Rethinking New Orleans: For the Future.” Batur, Caruso, and Weinberg have a variety of professors to lecture each week about how different disciplines view the tragedy. “I think this approach will allow us to attempt to understand a very complex set of issues better,” said Batur.

They also hope to bring in a few high-profile speakers to talk about issues surrounding Hurricane Katrina to the campus at large. Explained Batur, “An attempt like this defies the campus walls, pushing us out into the real world of challenges and complexities.”