UHV students return to classes after Harvey evacuation
University of Houston Victoria students returned to classes Sept. 11 after about 70 students spent two weeks living in the Quadrangle’s Law Hall following an evacuation to UH right before Harvey’s landfall.
Victoria students were anxious to go back to their dorms, said Brandon Lee, director of UHV’s Department of Residence Life and University Commons, but their return was delayed due to no electricity or drinkable water at their residence halls.
Christopher McDonald, a UHV Forensic Psychology & Clinical Mental Health Counseling graduate student, was one of the 70 evacuated to Law Hall on Aug 25. After staying for two weeks and seeing what the main campus has to offer, McDonald and the other UHV students wanted to bring pieces of UH back to Victoria.
“It was definitely nice. It was definitely a different experience, a different vibe,” McDonald said. “Going around campus and seeing some of the things they had there inspired me to want to go look into things we can add.”
UHV has already added a panini press to their Jaguar dining hall after the students used the ones at Moody Towers, said Camilla Sutton, assistant director of the Department of Residence Life in Victoria.
Sutton said UHV’s Student Government Association is also working on bringing a version of Cougar Red Fridays to their campus.
Psychology and human resources sophomore Katherine Burke said that she also enjoyed the vibe on the campus, and that isn’t the same as the UHV campus.
“We went to the student activity center you guys have,” Burke said. “That was just a great atmosphere, because we would see people break dancing in the middle of the hallway.”
Even though Burke enjoyed the variety of food and access to cable at the main campus, she said she was happy to be back in Victoria.
“I love it, I love being at home.” Burke said. “It’s nice, I miss the little activities available to us, but it’s home.”
The evacuated students arrived back to the Victoria campus Sept. 8, and were checking back into their residence halls through the following Monday.
With two weeks of classes canceled for UHV, Burke said she isn’t worried about the shortened semester, and that teachers are understanding of the situation. Sutton teaches a freshmen seminar and said she had to adjust what she will be teaching.
“Some people like the shortened schedule you know what I’m saying,” Sutton said. “It was a little challenging to amend the syllabus, but somehow, someway, I’ll still cover the material I wanted to cover, and we aren’t going to miss much material.”
The damage to the UHV residence halls was extensive, and it would have been unsafe for students to stay, Sutton said.
McDonald said he used his time at the main campus to get ahead in readings for his classes and helped volunteer. Students were carpooled to the George R. Brown Convention center to help.
“Volunteering kind of showed me the bigger impact of it,” McDonald said. “Hearing about it, you didn’t get to experience all of it, but actually going out and volunteering and seeing how much of an impact it had on people.”
“I’m glad we did not end up staying here, because we have windows broken out, water coming through the roof, so we had to replace a lot of carpet and flooring,” Sutton said. “And then our dining hall had to have some repairs.”
When UH President and Chancellor Renu Khator visited Moody Towers Dining Hall, Sutton thanked Khator for housing them, and said she provided them with necessities without her having to ask.
“I told her where we were staying,” Sutton said. “I swear — literally within, I would say less than two hours — all of these toiletries, supplies, blankets, pillows sheets, soap powder, all of this showed up at the Quads.”
Sutton said the sweetest of all the gifts was one Posturepedic pillow given to the Victoria students with a note that said “Whoever has this pillow, I hope you have a restful night.”
With two weeks of classes wrapped up for the semester at UHV, Director of Residence Life and University Commons Brandon Lee said students are now able to get back into their routines and return to normalcy.