The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has recently taken in at least 49 McNeese State University (MSU) students and counting, while still leaving room for students to quarantine in the dorms, according to Dawn Miller, interim housing director.
In an email sent by the Housing Office to university students, MSU students are not sharing rooms with UL Lafayette students, but may be sharing suites. They will also be following COVID-19 procedures.
“Over the weekend (Sept. 11-13) University Housing will begin to welcome McNeese students that have been displaced as a result of the storm. We will provide them with the facilities and tools they need to continue their fall semester in comfort and confidence,” reads the email.
Some students were waitlisted over the summer and decided to go home that UL Lafayette students were not getting priority, but Miller said that is not the case.
“After the semester started, some students chose not to come or chose to go home because they did not feel like they wanted to be on campus with online courses,” Miller said. “So that’s how we ended up with some available spaces.”
UL Lafayette has a total of 96 beds reserved for potential McNeese residents, according to MSU Dean of Students Kedrick Nicholas.
Nicholas said he doesn’t expect to fill them all out, but the number may fluctuate as the semester goes by and housing opportunities change. For example, UL Lafayette recently took in MSU’s basketball team, who will be staying for about a month, according to Nicholas.
“The amount of gratitude that personally I have and that we have at the university for the UL campus and the administrators and the students and how welcoming and accommodating everybody has been to provide me with the space on that campus is big,” Nicholas said.
“We’re just very grateful and we look forward to our opportunity to return the goodness that we’ve received from all the campuses around the state but especially UL,” he also said.
Prior to Hurricane Laura, McNeese, much like UL Lafayette, had some of its classes in person — those such as labs that wouldn’t work nearly as well remotely.
The storm and the displacement of its student body has almost reverted the campus back to what it was like in Spring of 2020 when COVID-19 first began breaking out in Louisiana, said Nicholas.
While not all the students have knowingly seen any MSU attendees, some are pleased that UL Lafayette has allowed them to stay on campus.
“I have like zero problems with them being here. I’ve always been a ‘from each according to their means to each according to their needs’ person, and if they don’t have a place to stay and we have that? That’s pretty nice, ”Jillian Mina, an environmental science major living in Huger Hall, wrote in a statement to the Vermillion.
Simbarashe Mambiri is an MSU graduate student staying at UL Lafayette, and he had only good things to say about his welcome to the campus. He said the campus had been very warm to him and commended UL Lafayette’s and MSU’s faculty and staff for making it easy to get back into the swing of things with school.
“And that’s what a lot of our students need right now, to be able to just to focus on schooling and take their minds off of these things that happened a couple of weeks ago with hurricane Laura,” Mambiri said.
Since their arrival on campus, the MSU students have made their own group chat. They keep up communication amongst each other through it, and Mambiri said he’s even struck up conversations with some of UL Lafayette’s own.
“I’ve bumped into a number of Residential Assistants (RA) and chatted with them and I’m hoping that by the end of the semester I’ll have made a lot more great friends here in Lafayette,” Mambiri said.