It’s time to bring this site back to the students, so spread the word. Today I’m going to talk about why it is that we are just so obsessed with getting back to New Orleans as soon as possible, because no one gets it- not parents, not friends from other schools, not even many alumni. It seems that many of these people just can’t seem to fathom why we would be in such a hurry to go back. Some of us are in “better” universities than Tulane, others are in bigger schools or with our “best friends from home.” Why would we be so eager to get back to New Orleans when we can be with our home friends in our hometowns with our wonderful parents?
I know people at USC, UCSB, UCLA, Boulder, Stanford, Michigan, Texas, Arizona, and Yale; and very few of them understand why we are so eager to go back to a place that could have virtually no amenities (which we will but that's another argument). Each of those universities is unique in its own way, some small or big, some with mostly instate people and some with out of state people. So why are we so different from every single one? I should also mention the parents, who are generally terrified of the possibility of students returning, even though Tulane would never let us come back until it was 110% safe. Parents keep saying “I’ll never let my kid go back there” or “Why would you even want to go back?” Hey parents, I don’t expect you to understand. But students will.
I want to go back because Tulane is my second family, it's that simple. Allow me to elaborate. Something about New Orleans and about Tulane compels the students to bond in a way that I have never seen at another university. Clearly, something brings us together; you can say it’s simply the availability of common social locations such as the Boot, or a love for the community around Tulane. It could be that many of us all have this general craving for adventure (which is true, Tulane students seem to be very adventurous). But another major factor that is often forgotten is that we make New Orleans our homes, not our second homes or our temporary homes, but our primary homes. In many universities, students opt to travel or go home on the weekends, never fully establishing a permanent connection with their surroundings. I think this severely impacts the way they interact socially, if for anything, because these people retain very intimate relationships with their home friends. Many, not all, of these people have stronger connections with their hometown than with New Orleans, and that’s just not the case for us Tulane students. Now, I’m sure that there are people who are outside of this analysis; but I’m just trying to generalize things so we can analyze the situation further. It seems to be that since we all stay in New Orleans, without the opportunity or desire to leave every weekend, we bond on another level; that of family. We make connections on hundreds of levels, from the campus life to the restaurants, from the people to the transportation, from our classes to the supermarkets social scene (Whole Foods for sure). Tulane replaces your home situation, your family structure. This is a great thing because we all need a permanent local family (even if it’s just until we graduate). To me, my friends are my brothers and sisters, the university is my parents, and Bourbon Street is some weird uncle who is fun for the first 10 minutes of the party until he’s had a few too many drinks.
The good and the bad of my experience as a student at Tulane have fit neatly into a family structure. And thus, when I’m without New Orleans, I’m without my second family. At Tulane, we develop tradition; be it a crawfish boil on Fridays or Five Happiness Chinese Food on Sundays (hope they are still there). At Tulane, there is a sense of community; such as peoples’ relationships within the Hullabaloo, TEMS, Hillel, TUCP, CACTUS, sports, or the Greek system. These mini-communities become a focal point for our emotional stability. We use them to connect with each other under a common bond, and enhance our emotional states. At Tulane there’s a lot of love. Some of us love the music of New Orleans- from jazz to hip-hop. Others of us love the food, the culture, or the wild party life. You can’t get this unique blend of cultural elements anywhere, not even in major European cities. At Tulane, there is happiness. It seems that the students are just generally happy there. I base this on a 2 factors. 1) The sentiments I get from students all around the country, that nowhere and I mean nowhere, compares to Tulane and 2) The expression of content that students have with the school (read about it on the “what I miss about New Orleans” section). Finally there’s a major sense of unity. It seems that we the students have a general love for each other, and thus, a general respect for the community- a respect for the family. And hey, MAYBE IT’S LIKE THIS AT OTHER SCHOOLS, but I don’t know one person who understands my feelings about it and really, it doesn’t matter.
What about Tulane University itself? Well it’s just an amazing academic institution. The professors are remarkable. We could not do without Lesmond, Beau, Burrows, and Hogg (and that’s just people in the b-school). The facilities are new and high tech. The administration cares. When I want to talk to my advisor, I call him on the phone and HE answers. If you need to talk to a professor, you can email him or her and actually get a response. Most of my professors give me their home numbers. The students are intelligent, and always work together to help each other out. The food…well let’s just say we’d like Subway back, please. The campus is gorgeous, even in the latest pictures. Yes, Tulane costs a lot of money. It was a big factor in my decision where to go to school. But I think it’s worth every penny and so do my parents. You get your money’s worth- a quality institution with life at your fingertips.
So what about the potential class of 2010? Or the class of 2009? I don’t think that videos or even speeches from Administrators are going to entice a class of people who have a lot of other options for colleges. They know Tulane’s a good school. They know they are going to have a great dorm life. They know that New Orleans is an interesting city. But there are 100 other cities that can provide them with all these fabulous things. Why should they even bother when they can try to get in to Michigan? Family is the word. Tradition, community, love, happiness. This unique blend of culture and community can’t be found anywhere else.
To the class of 2010: This is your life. This is your future. It doesn’t matter whether you go to a school ranked 30 or 40, it matters on what kind of personal experience you can bring to your career. If your gut tells you that you might benefit from the array of opportunities that await you at Tulane, then I challenge you to take the plunge. I challenge you to try out the one university that will become your second .family The decision on where to go to college will affect you for the rest of your life. No college is the same, and maybe Tulane isn’t for you. But if you are looking to gain valuable intellectual, cultural, and social experiences that can’t be matched anywhere else; then Tulane is the place. Plus, the other colleges will always be there, but you won’t find this experience anywhere else.
Look, am I saying New Orleans is perfect? No way. Could we do without a few things here and there? Absolutely. I’m saying its better. I’m saying that I’ve been a lot of places, and there’s truly nothing like it. The experience that I have taken away from Tulane is incomparable. I grew and matured in ways that leave my friends from home in awe. My parents think that I made the best decision coming to Tulane, where I grew culturally as well an independently. I’m saying that there are good reasons why these students want to come back as soon as possible. I’m saying there are good reasons very few people (if any) are permanently transferring. So those of you who don’t get why we want to come back- stop asking us why, and start asking us when.
Miss you all,
Brett N. Hyman