The city’s only West Side community college will have amongst its student population this fall students from Gulf Coast schools and universities shut down because of Hurricane Katrina.

Malcolm X College, one of the city’s seven community colleges, has enrolled seven students from schools in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. Wayne Watson, chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago, said two weeks ago that tuition and fees would be waived at city colleges for displaced Gulf Coast students.

Olive Harvey, Kennedy/King and Wright College have reportedly also taken in students. The fall semester at Malcolm X College began, ironically, on Aug. 29, the day Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. College officials said they would pick up the tab for books as well.

Displaced students may still be able to enroll in classes already in progress. Special session classes began last week. As a two-year college, some credits obtained at Malcolm X will be made transferable, said Ghingo Brooks, vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Services. The college also will not worry about paperwork that most students don’t have or can’t retrieve.

“We’re not trying to get [students] to transfer. This is a way to give them credits and keep them on track,” he said. “We’re not trying to be invasive. We’re not asking them for a whole lot of information. If they’ve got I.D., fine. If they don’t, that’s fine too.”

Some 100,000 students were enrolled at Gulf Coast universities for fall 2005. Tulane (New Orleans), Alcorn State University (Claiborne County, Miss.), Mississippi College (Clinton) and Dillard University (New Orleans) remain either partially of fully closed.

Jackson State University (Miss.), the University of Southern Mississippi (Hattiesburg), Tougaloo College (Jackson), and Delta State University (Cleveland, Miss.) are among those that have resumed classes. MXC’s Gulf Coast enrollees were attending such schools as Mississippi Valley State and the University of New Orleans.

Representatives from a number of community colleges went down to the ravaged region two weeks ago. The individual schools are planning their own relief efforts. MXC officials are asking for $5 donations to purchase trucks to take supplies to victims. The college’s medical departments are planning to send faculty and students to help provide health care. No specific dates have been set, school officials said.

“We don’t know how this thing is going to move and in what direction, but we know these people are going to need help for a long time,” said Brooks.

In a uniquely personal touch, MXC President Zerrie Campbell is seeking clothing for full-figured, female victims after watching televised news accounts.

“In our desire to help, we don’t always think in terms of specific populations when we’re making our donations,” she said. “I saw a lot of women with whom I relate, and I just said, ‘Let’s think about the big girls.'”

Campbell extended her campaign to include clothing for men, as well as personal hygiene products. Donations have already poured in, one of the positive things to come from the tragedy, Campbell acknowledged.

Donations can be dropped off at Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Van Buren. For more information call 312/850-7000.