Southern University of New Orleans to Build Dormitories for the First Time

Prior to Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, Southern University of New Orleans was strictly a commuter college with about 2,800 undergraduate students. About 94 percent of the students at Southern were black. Many lived in the poorest neighborhoods of the city that experienced the worst flooding.

All 11 buildings on the Southern University campus were hit hard by severe flooding. Most of the buildings on campus are two stories high and floodwaters were as high as 15 feet on campus. Estimates of the damage ranged as much as $350 million.

The university has reopened in temporary quarters, in 45 trailers, 26 of which are classrooms with the remaining 19 being a computer laboratory, dining area, health unit, and other support units of the university. Another 400 living trailers are in place for students, faculty, and staff. About one half of the academic programs that existed before the hurricane are still offered.

Now Southern University of New Orleans has decided to build dormitories for the first time. With housing in such short supply in New Orleans, the university believes that the only way it will be able to attract students is if there is some place for them to be housed. Many of the neighborhoods where Southern students used to live are still uninhabitable.