The excerpt below is a component of the weekly Higher Ed Issues Landscape Report, which analyzes the top conversation trends in higher education for the past week and highlights qualitative and quantitative insights on the topics and universities that drove coverage.
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Many university campuses have been forced to shut down as Hurricane Ida hit the Gulf region Sunday evening, downgrading to a tropical storm as it continues to travel north. On top of evolving COVID-19 protocols, a number of institutions have been forced to further restructure the semester in the wake of power outages and student safety concerns. As with any crisis, there is a critical need to quickly and effectively communicate to students, staff, faculty, and others. This week, we have seen numerous examples of this, with several universities going above and beyond to protect their campus communities and show goodwill:
Notable Examples of University Responses to Hurricane Ida
(For consideration in crisis playbook development)
- Due to a complete power outage in the City of New Orleans and ongoing damage to infrastructure, Tulane University evacuated more than 1,800 students to Houston, Texas.
- The university established a hub in Houston, will absorb all costs for hotel stays and student flights, and has committed to providing additional emergency funds to students in need of more support.
- Originally scheduled to be one of Tulane’s biggest on-campus opponents in school history, the opening football game this weekend against The University of Oklahoma was moved to Norman, Oklahoma in response to the storm.
- According to a release from The University of Oklahoma, the school will still designate Tulane as the home team, allowing it to retain all net proceeds from ticket sales.
- “I know that many of our fans were looking forward to visiting one of our favorite cities, New Orleans. But now, we have an opportunity to do what we do best, and that is extend our hospitality to people who are facing a significant challenge. All of us will do our part to make the Tulane team and fans feel welcome and appreciated as we host their home game.” – OU Athletic Director Joe Castiglione
- In addition to hurricane preparedness communications that were disseminated to the public, The University of Southern Mississippi released an evacuation guide specifically for parents to make them aware of actions USM was taking to protect their family members.
- The guide included expectations for students, evacuation plans, and recommendations for how parents can stay updated with any updates or changes.
- Although unlikely to be severely impacted by the effects of Hurricane Ida, the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Chancellor Joanne Li shared a message with the campus community encouraging them to consider how they can be mindful and accommodating to their neighbors.
- Chancellor Li also used the opportunity to share the university’s campus resource page to further educate community members around how they can take proactive actions.