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Wolfpack spirit in D.C.

Loyola press release - October 20, 2005

Florence Farris, a freshman majoring in global studies, doesn't have time to lament over the fact that she wasn't able to commence classes for the first semester of her freshman year at Loyola University New Orleans before being whisked away. Along with other Loyola students who were accepted to Georgetown University in the wake of the hurricane, Farris has become active in a student support group for displaced Loyola students in D.C.

Though she was barely a freshman, Farris doesn't think this lessens her intense connection with Loyola any. "As a freshman there may be an element of 'pay it forward,' but Loyola is now my school. If Katrina hadn't happened I would have stayed at Loyola and had a routine existence for a freshman," she says.

Wolfpack at Georgetown University, or WAGU, was suggested in the first weeks after the hurricane, "because most of us have strong feelings for, and are proud of Loyola," Farris said. She is currently serving as chair, where she coordinates events and acts as conduit between the students, administrators of Georgetown, and Loyola alumni situated in the D.C. area. WAGU is comprised of 52 undergraduates, 15 law students, and five faculty from Loyola. But it doesn't stop there. Farris says WAGU also tracks Loyola students who are temporarily at the neighboring universities of Catholic, Marymount, American, and Howard Law.

"We send them WAGU announcements and invitations to keep them in the loop, to make them feel welcome and connected," said Farris.

Headed by Marty Welles, the LOYNO Alumni DC Chapter has also been very supportive. They have offered Loyola students assistance in finding housing and employment and "serve as an umbrella in the Capitol region for all those from Loyola who were displaced."

Farris and other WAGU members are actively planning events to keep the wolfpack spirit alive. They've had a few surprise visits from Loyola faculty. Bob Thomas, Ph.D., director of Loyola's Center for Environmental Communication spoke at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.

Their first planned event is going to be a Mass of Thanksgiving for the deliverance of the Loyola community and campus, followed by refreshments. It will be celebrated by Loyola chaplain, Bill Farge, S.J., associate professor of japanese.

WAGU is also planning a Mongolian barbecue, an informal wine tasting, and a benefit meal and auction, "where we hope to attract corporate and philanthropic pledges." There is talk of a Georgetown-Loyola Solidarity Day and WAGU has been invtied by Loyola alumni to all of their events.

Georgetown offered WAGU the space, design, and maintenance for their own website, www.georgetown.edu/student-affairs/wagu/. "We hope," said Farris, "that it will streamline communications amongst the WAGU members, and serve as portal to other helpful resources: health, safety, counseling, spiritual guidance, links to Loyola, info on D.C., and news updates on News Orleans from The Times Picayune online."

Amidst all the chaos and devastation Hurricane Katrina has caused for the displaced students at Georgetown and elsewhere, WAGu has created a comforting network for Loyola students to communicate with one another, and as Farris, said, given them an identity, a place to go. "Georgetown has encouraged and supported our goals, and Father Wildes' leadership has been an inspiration."

WAGU Mission Statement

"Having been impacted by Hurricane Katrina, the visiting students from Loyola University New Orleans at Georgetown University resolve to form a support group to reestablish communications, offer understanding, comfort, succor, direction, information, and aid to those within our community who suffered harm, disruption, and displacement as a result of Katrina. It is our goal to assist one another—students, faculty, and staff—to rebuild our community and to express our thanks to Georgetown University and the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities for their generous assistance in our time of need. We further resolve to raise funds for the Loyola Relief Fund and other associated causes to help lift some of the burden and suffering caused by Katrina."