If you happen to notice a little blue and gold interspersed amongst the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus’ customary vermilion and white, it isn’t the changing fall colors. This week, UL Lafayette welcomed 42 McNeese State University (MSU) students while their campus and community recovers from the destruction of Hurricane Laura.
Last month, Hurricane Laura devastated much of southwest Louisiana, especially Lake Charles, the home of MSU. MSU’s campus suffered a significant amount of damage, which will potentially cost $200 million to repair, according to UL System President Jim Henderson.
In order to accommodate the relocated students, Interim Housing Director Dawn Miller said UL Lafayette has arranged a lease with MSU to house their students. The lease will last until the end of the fall semester. The lease agreement is the same one UL Lafayette students sign.
Miller said these guest students will be spread out between the residence halls and university apartments. The portion of McNeese students who are staying on campus are dorming with fellow McNeese students, rather than amalgamating with UL Lafayette students in order to follow social distancing guidelines established to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
As they move in, McNeese students are having to follow the same protocols as UL Lafayette students in order to safely social distance.
“Even (with) their move-in, they had to follow the same procedures. In fact, they were a little stricter than they were for our students in that we didn’t allow any helpers to help them move their belongings in. Only the students were allowed to go into the reference hall for the apartments,” Miller said.
Beginning this past Friday, Sept. ,McNeese students staying on UL Lafayette’s campus proceeded with their classes online. The university has incorporated the guests into the same accommodations afforded to UL Lafayette’s students, such as meal planning and parking, since both universities are members of the UL Lafayette System.
“Food service was able to work with us and put together a meal plan for the McNeese students, and they are actually a part of the UL bridge program, so they have a ULID,” said Miller, referring to UL System student identification cards as a means of enrollment verification also used to confirm meal plan eligibility.
UL Lafayette has reached an understanding with McNeese in order to offset the cost of housing, feeding, and otherwise accommodating the visiting students.
“The university has an agreement with McNeese, and so students are still doing all of their business operations with McNeese University. And UL will send a bill to McNeese, and McNeese will work with students to get everything taken care of,” Miller said.