Riverside Students Want UT to Provide More Aid in the Aftermath of the Storm
By Dominique LaVigne
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas – The University of Texas at Austin’s Student Emergency Services paid out over $16,000 during the week of the winter storm, but students living in the Riverside neighborhood continue to struggle in the storm’s aftermath.
Water flooded the apartment of UT student Taeana Fisher on Feb. 15.
“I think the pipes just busted in the sprinkler system on the third floor and so water flooded their apartment which flooded the second floor and our floor as well,” Fisher said.
Fisher didn’t seek help from Student Emergency Services (SES). Sara Kennedy, the SES communications director, said students can apply for funding any time.
“Anytime something happens that interrupts one of our student’s abilities to focus on their education, their classwork and their personal well-being, that’s an emergency, and we want to be able to kind of ease that a little bit,” Kennedy said.
The Office of the Dean of Students started hearing from students in similar situations and offered help nearly 24 hours a day during the storm.
“We were able to let them know about the safe warming centers available here on campus, but also to share information about the available services and warming centers throughout the city,” Kennedy said.
Neha Mistry, another UT student who lives in Riverside, lost power and water the week of the storm.
“I think it was Monday night, about 2 a.m. The power went out, and then the next day, the power still hadn’t come back on. Around I believe 3 o’clock or so we heard the pipe burst outside,” Mistry said.
She said the effects of the storm still worry her today.
“The first couple nights I came back, I was worried about the power going out again, but otherwise, I think I’m okay. It’s just something that’s going to be in the back of my mind for a while,” she said.
Fisher and Mistry want UT to do more to help students in Riverside.
“I mean it’s very well known that a lot of UT students live in Riverside, so I think that there should be more accommodation for us,” Fisher said.
Fisher suggests proximity to the university helps in emergency situations like these.
“I think that maybe having some kind of campus-related office, or something like that, located closer to Riverside so that resources that UT is providing for students close to campus can be provided for students over here as well,” Fisher said.
The Office of the Dean of Students said it doesn’t have an initiative like that in the works. Students still struggling can apply for emergency funding and grab free groceries from the UT Outpost.
“We’ve heard all kinds of things from across the city, so we want them to know that if they’re facing unexpected expenses that are impacting their ability to succeed as students, they absolutely should apply for those students’ emergency funds to see if we can help them,” Kennedy said.