The Vice Chancellor for Students, Lastenia Hernández, assures that the intention of the University is that “no student abandons his studies because of this volcano” although he admits that for this they should not only jump the economic obstacle but above all the emotional one. Since the eruption in Cumbre Vieja began on September 19, the ULL began a race against time, whose first step was the location of the 1,820 students residing on the island to know their situation and that of their families.
According to the data that Hernández shuffles, about 800 are inhabitants of the three municipalities affected by the volcanic eruption: Los Llanos, El Paso and Tazacorte. A call to each of them in which the academic head has learned through the telephone the hopelessness, uncertainty, fear and desolation of young people. “Many of them tell us that they cannot abandon their families and that they prefer to remain close to their land to help with whatever is needed”, sums up the vice-rector.
“The objective is that they do not leave their studies for economic or emotional reasons,” says the vice-rector
A situation that becomes even more difficult among the students of the institution who “have lost everything.” A total of 122 students who have been left without a home and without the properties that serve their family to support them, to which are added those who are still evicted “but do not know with certainty what happened to their home,” explains the academic responsible.
From the ULL they are aware that the situation may still worsen and that students continue to be added to the list of those affected, taking into account that the eruptive process has not yet finished. However, the leaders of the University consider that it is not possible to wait for the volcano to finish expelling magma to promote “all possible measures” that prevent the students from La Palma from also losing their training. For this reason, the institution is structuring the actions that it can take to make it easier for those affected to join their classrooms, taking into account the particularities of this historical and catastrophic process. Specifically, explains the vice-chancellor, the measures are oriented in three directions: economic, academic and emotional.
Facing the complete recovery of a home requires a huge investment, funds that are not usually available, much less in the urgent way that families require. Taking into account that the commitment to aid from the public Administration will take time to materialize and with the aim of at least contributing a grain of sand to the difficult situation of the students, the ULL has started a double economic path to help the battered pockets of La Palma families.
Hernández points out that as a more immediate decision, the university government has held an emergency meeting to delay the deadline for the first tuition payment for students from La Palma. The maximum date to materialize the entry is set on October 5 “but it has been opted to make it more flexible so that they do not have that obligation in the midst of this circumstance,” says the vice-rector.
This is not the only economic action promoted by the ULL. In that meeting they have advanced in the implementation of a call for specific aid for students whose family unit has lost their home or financial support. “The idea is that they are direct and quick aid,” says the vice-chancellor, who adds that it will be an open call “to ensure that if the volcano affects more students, they can also benefit.”
“The amounts of these grants are not yet closed because we are also looking for lines of collaboration that allow us financing,” adds Hernández who reports that he is also in negotiation with the Cabildo de La Palma with the aim of seeking an “administrative route that serves to ratify in an agile way the economic reality of the students ».
The institution has already started classes in all its degrees this week. In the classrooms there is still a lack of attendance by the Palmer students, of the almost 800 for whom the vital thing now is not to lock themselves up after some notes. The ULL does not want a further delay in their effective incorporation into classes to become an argument to abandon the course, so it is articulating a formula to make the return of the students from the Isla Bonita more flexible.
It is, according to Hernández, a strictly academic measure that will be carried out through the deanships of the different faculties and whose objective is that “those young people who have lost everything can be incorporated without affecting their knowledge and training they must acquire ».
In this regard, the vice-rector maintains that “it is not feasible” to start a complete online teaching procedure because although there are subjects that can be taught in this way, in many other cases face-to-face is required. “It is clear that at the moment they are neither willing nor strong enough to start the course normally,” admits the head of the Vice-Rector’s Office, an acknowledgment that has also served to launch a third measure, in this case an emotional end.
“They cannot concentrate, they do not rest or consider anything beyond being with their family and their people,” sums up the vice-rector. A feeling relevant enough to serve as a brake when it comes to resuming university studies. To help them go through this situation that “has them absolutely overwhelmed”, the ULL will open a support service through professionals from the Faculty of Psychology.
“They have an emotional recovery ahead of them in which we can help them,” says Lastenia, who has been infected with these feelings during calls to young people “and even in conversations with their families” who have served as a contact.
The vice-rector, who is precisely a professor of Psychology, not only shows empathy with the tremendous emotional impact of the eruption and the loss of their homes, but also defends that in the face of the situation that the families of La Palma are experiencing «they should not give up without understanding that the best way to help his people is not to mortgage their future. “The objective is that this does not happen, that they are incorporated into the classrooms in the best possible conditions and that their economic situation is partly alleviated,” he concludes.
His concern is evident to such an extent that even though he assures that he has managed to contact all his students from La Palma, he insists that there is an e-mail address ([email protected]) to which those affected can be directed and that « you will have an immediate response from the technicians of the center ».
The Ministry of Education of the Government of the Canary Islands, due to the effects of the La Palma volcano eruption, extends the application period for scholarships for university studies corresponding to the 2021-2022 academic year for students living on this island. The petition period, which ended today, now runs until December 31. In addition, the General Directorate of Universities will propose to the Selection Commission the granting of these aids to said students, even if they do not meet any of the requirements set out in the base of the call, a condition that must be justified by supervening economic circumstances, provided that These are documentary accredited. Access to the application will be made through the website of the Ministry. |