Morehouse Students Show HBCU Hospitality to Texas Southern Students and Staff Stuck in AtlantaDate Released: August 31, 2017
By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
Morehouse College has opened its cafeteria and computer lab to students of Texas Southern University who were stranded in Atlanta after their flight home was canceled due to the high winds and rain of Hurricane Harvey.
The 17 students and three administrators had a layover at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport that soon became an extended stay after the hurricane hit. The group had flown to Tallahassee, Fla. for the Florida A&M vs. Texas Southern football game on Aug. 26. Texas Southern University student leaders had a great time despite the 29-7 loss ––until they realized late Saturday evening that back home in Houston, Hurricane Harvey had begun to cause major flooding.
“While we were in Tallahassee, we heard that it became a Category 4 storm and things had gotten worse,” said Chad Zeno, a senior respiratory therapy major and Texas Southern’s Mr. Texas Southern University.
Not only were flights canceled, but airports in Houston were also shut down. Those who rode buses and drove cars to the game––including alumni, the band, and the TSU football team––made it back to Houston.
Others didn’t, including the 20 that made it to Atlanta. But that’s as far as they could go. They have been stuck in an Atlanta hotel ever since.
But the bonds that make historically black college and universities close kicked in as Morehouse students rallied to help.
Dr. Rapheal Moffett, TSU’s vice president for Student Services, a former Morehouse employee, reached out to Morehouse’s associate dean of Student Life, Kevin Booker ’90 to say the group was stranded.
“I immediately thought that it would be great for our students and their students to connect,” Booker said. “They were doing some things with Clark Atlanta University as well. I called our Student Government Association president; I called our cafeteria manager and said, ‘Let’s do a meal and a meet and greet with the students.’ It also gave me a chance to connect with an old colleague and his staff.”
Morehouse student leaders took over. They hosted the Texas Southern students over lunch on campus, with the men of Morehouse looking for ways they could help TSU students and those who live in the Houston area. They’ve discussed contributing clothes, money, toiletries and even holding an event to raise money for the effort. A prayer vigil was held on Tuesday.
“We are doing what we are supposed to do,” said Kamren Rollins, Morehouse’s Student Government Association president. “Not only as men of Morehouse, but as HBCU students in general. We are supposed to be game changers. It’s our job to uplift anyone that’s ever in need. This is our obligation. We’re supposed to be helping.”
The TSU students are waiting anxiously to get back home. They have been focused on what’s happening with their university, family, and friends back home instead of their extended layover in Atlanta.
“I see Instagram posts; I see Twitter posts saying, ‘Go save my mom, she’s stuck on the roof,’” said Corbrin Burton, TSU’s Student Government Association president. “But it’s like I can’t even get a plane to come save my people. So, we’re stuck here, wanting to get back to Houston, just to help anybody. It’s not a good feeling.”
The good news Wednesday is that the water is beginning to recede and the airports are beginning to open in the Houston area. The group is hoping to get a flight home by the end of the week.
Connie Cochran, the assistant vice president of Alumni Relations at Texas Southern, has gotten an impromptu chance got to see her son, Morehouse sophomore Tucker Toole. But she has no idea what’s happened to her home in Texas.
“I don’t know about any water that may have seeped through any possible opening or anything like that, so when I get back I’ll be able to assess the situation,” she said. “But I haven’t seen my car, my home, anything. I’m just anxious to get back and help and get back on campus and see all the things we need to do to come together to help one another.”
To show HBCU support to victims of Hurricane Harvey, visit TSU Cares at https://tsu.thankyou4caring.org/tsucares.
Last Modified: September 1, 2017, 10:09 AM, by: Kara Walker