Four Katrina evacuees were kicked out of Caruthers Residence Hall last Monday. Three of the women were sisters of Byron Santiago, Tech football player and a senior sociology major.
Dr. Jim King, the vice president of student affairs, asked Pam Damond, Lakesha Santiago, Cassandra Santiago and Donna Sanders, a security guard in Caruthers, all residents of St. Bernard Parish near New Orleans, to remove themselves from Caruthers.
“There was a verbal altercation among four women, and it actually turned into a physical altercation at one point,” King said. “Prior to the altercation, they were told about the expectations and requirements to be entitled to reside in the facility.”
King said Tech cannot condone that type of behavior.
“Unfortunately inappropriate decisions were made,” King said. “Tech had to exercise our ability to remove them from the facility.”
King said the campus and evacuees were not in any danger.
“This is the first incident or altercation that has happened,” King said. “We are very sensitive to the kind of stress these people are under. We are not callous, but we do have specific guidelines that are agreeable and communicated clearly.”
King said the rules are for everyone’s benefit.
“There are 50 to 60 children who reside [in Caruthers],” King said. “This unfortunate incident does not reflect on what we have seen.”
King said the evacuees still have a tremendous amount of gratitude towards Tech.
“I know if my wife and kids were there, they would not want to be subjected to any physical violence,” King said. “[The evacuees] need to begin the healing and decision-making process they are all involved in, and we have been able to help them.”
King said he does not want this incident to cloud the good work of the students, faculty, staff and volunteers.
Sam Speed, the director of residential life and information technology, said the situation was unfortunate.
“All I did was uphold guidelines that [Tech] has set forth,” Speed said. “We cannot allow a physical altercation in a situation like what we have in Caruthers.”
Speed said he talked to three out of the four ladies about the disagreement.
Jose Damond, the mother of the three sisters involved in the altercation, declined an interview because she wishes to put the dispute in the past.
As reported in the Ruston Daily Leader, Pam Damond said she felt she and her sisters were being treated unfairly in being asked to leave.
“We didn’t start it, and we didn’t throw any punches,” Damond said. “They’re throwing us out, and we’ve got no place to go.”
The three sisters are part of a larger family group of 58 members from St. Bernard Parish. Damond said since the family was close, they would all leave.
“We don’t know where we’re going to go,” she said. “We’ve got no money or transportation.”