Monday, October 24, 2005

New Orleans Becomes Home Again

Reports prove that New Orleans is ready for our return, but many parents refuse to accept it.

A report from two of my close friends from Tulane shed new hope on the question of whether “New Orleans will ever be the same.” Some people had, at times, questioned if uptown would be able to bounce back by January. They thought there would be no restaurants, markets, bars, or life in the area surrounding Tulane. Of course, there are valid arguments for this type of thinking. However, reports from this weekend proved those thinkers are just plain wrong.

Not only will Uptown come back, but it already has. My friends, Ryan Schimmel and Eric Israel, were very surprised to see that they were able to participate in activities that mirrored their past daily lives in New Orleans. Ryan told me how his apartment, which is right in the heart of flooded areas, faired well enough for him to take a shower and brush his teeth. He and Eric went to Cooter Brown’s Bar and Restaurant to watch a football game. They even attended the infamous Boot and grabbed a bite at The Dough Bowl. But Ryan elaborated on another feeling that arose from his visit, the feeling of being home. He told me that not only did New Orleans look like it once did before Katrina, but he felt like he was home again. He even said that he would not have been opposed to moving back down right away. He said that Tulane AND the surrounding area would be ready to host people immediately, if they weren’t so concerned with making everything perfect. All the main restaurants, supermarkets, bars, and roads are open. Other than some trees that still line some of the streets, Uptown looks brand new again.

Downtown is no different. The quarter is alive and thriving as curious tourists and locals looking to take a break from cleanup. Café Du Monde is back in business- and still doing tons of it. Residents are lighthearted and optimistic, and all have developed a sense of community and togetherness that resonates among all those who experienced this tragedy. In other words, the community is stronger and the unity is potent.

Yes, problems will exist in many areas. If we can all focus our attention on Lakeview and the lower 9th ward, the reconstruction effort will move quickly and smoothly. With help from the Red Cross and various charities, these communities will eventually be rebuilt. However, Tulane students should know that these areas will not affect their experience whatsoever. Students should do all they can to provide aid or help to the destroyed areas and their families, however you will be able to go on with your lives as planned. If we work together, we can make a huge difference.

I raised a point in my town hall meeting that has recently been amplified by many emails I have received. It appears that hundreds, and I mean HUNDREDS, of students are having problems convincing their parents to “let them return.” And since I know it’s the parents who love to comment on this site, I’m sure they will read this. Tons of students are being pressured by their respective parents not only to explore other options, but to make finalized decisions not to return to Tulane. Sadly, some of these parents mitigated and even rejected any attempts for the student to reason. It seems that parents have been the source of a lot of inter-student discussion. As the parents decided to attack each other, the university, the administration and even myself on this site and other sites, students have stopped commenting on most of the Tulane student sites. While I see this as inevitable, I just thought I would show those students my support, and tell them that tons of other students are in their shoes. To those of you whose parents are pressuring you not to come: Know that we are with you. Many students have voiced the EXACT same dilemma. I believe that these parents will give you the power to make your own decisions, once their concerns are alleviated. And how will their concerns be alleviated? Just wait until they go back to New Orleans and visit. Let them see it all for themselves. If they don’t believe it then, you know they are living in a nightmare.

To those of you parents who have been as unbelievably supportive as mine have, thank you. I don’t mean to attack all the parents, or even imply that all parents are being ignorant. However, this has become THE primary student issue, just behind off campus housing situations. I voiced it in my own town hall meeting and tons of students agreed with me, on the spot. I hope that you will continue to support your child’s right to make his or her own decision. I’m sure that he or she would love to take your advice and wisdom to heart. But pressure is just not necessary. Working with him or her, you can find out what’s best for your son or daughter. If Tulane is in their heart, then let them explore their soul.

Miss you all,
Brett

38 Comments:

Blogger RealityCheck said...

Brett wrote:
”I raised a point in my town hall meeting that has recently been amplified by many emails I have received. It appears that hundreds, and I mean HUNDREDS, of students are having problems convincing their parents to “let them return.””

So, it appears that although the actual number of students who have withdrawn as “reported” by the Administration is small, there are HUNDREDS out there who haven’t yet, and are waiting to see for themselves to make an informed decision about going back.

”And since I know it’s the parents who love to comment on this site, I’m sure they will read this.”

Brett, perhaps parents like me love to comment on this site because you paint an overly rosy picture of what the situation is like. You’ve accused me of being overly negative and biased, but have you raised any potentially negative issues about Tulane and NOLA on this site? From what I have seen, everything you’ve written been overly optimistic, and now you are telling students to ignore any negatives. Isn’t that irresponsible?

”Tons of students are being pressured by their respective parents not only to explore other options, but to make finalized decisions not to return to Tulane. Sadly, some of these parents mitigated and even rejected any attempts for the student to reason.”

Brett, the same comments could be written as:

Tons of parents are being pressured by their children that they will not explore other options in case Tulane can’t open or NOLA isn’t ready for the influx of students, and their children have told their parents that unless they go back to Tulane they will be unhappy. Sadly, some of these children mitigated and even rejected any attempts for the parents to reason.

As the parents decided to attack each other, the university, the administration and even myself on this site and other sites, students have stopped commenting on most of the Tulane student sites. While I see this as inevitable, I just thought I would show those students my support, and tell them that tons of other students are in their shoes.”

Again, the same comments could be written:

As the students have decided be overly optimistic about NOLA, Tulane, Scott Cowen, the ability of Tulane to open and the housing situation, parents have continued to comment on the possible negative effects of these situations on most student and parent blogs. While I see this as inevitable, as Reality Check, I just thought I would show those parents my support, and tell them that tons of other parents are in their shoes.

”To those of you whose parents are pressuring you not to come: Know that we are with you. Many students have voiced the EXACT same dilemma. I believe that these parents will give you the power to make your own decisions, once their concerns are alleviated. And how will their concerns be alleviated? Just wait until they go back to New Orleans and visit. Let them see it all for themselves. If they don’t believe it then, you know they are living in a nightmare.”

And again, the same can be written as:

To those of you whose children are pressuring you to go back: Know that we as parents are here with you. Many parents have voiced the EXACT same dilemma. I believe that these students will be given the power to make your own decisions, once the facts of the situation have been properly reviewed and seen. And how will our concerns be properly communicated to our children? Just wait until they go back to New Orleans and visit, and you will see for yourselves the potential nightmare you may be living in. If we allow you to go back, even against our better judgment, we as parents are willing as always, because you are our children, to help you get out of the nightmare you insisted on getting yourselves into. That’s why we are parents, and you are out children. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

There are two sides to every story. Try to look at both before making a decision. That's all THIS parent is asking.

6:03 AM  
Blogger another texas mom said...

Brett, thank you for the kind words to us parents who support their kids going back to Tulane. Family dynamics are complicated on a good day. I suspect that with many of these families, Katrina is not the only issue they are dealing with. I certainly hope that the parents will listen to their students. After all, we have raised you all to become responsible adults capable of deciding for yourselves.

RC, your world is a depressing one. I'm glad I don't live in it. I have to have a little hope. Perhaps it's my faith.

6:17 AM  
Blogger nancy s said...

To all Tulane Students, I apologize for intruding briefly on your space, especially as our own Blog posts an appeal to Tulane Moms to leave Brett's Blog to the students.

Brett writes, "As the parents decided to attack each other, the university, the administration and even myself on this site and other sites, students have stopped commenting on most of the Tulane student sites. While I see this as inevitable, I just thought I would show those students my support, and tell them that tons of other students are in their shoes."

If that is so, that students are being intimidated into silence by verbal attacks and abuse, that is a shame. Unlike Brett, however, I do not see it as inevitable.

The lesson learned by the "Moms" (which includes a few non-Moms), is that not only is a forum community needed, but it is also viable.

Tulane Moms II was created and structured as a member's only site not to exclude opinion, but to curb abuse. So, no, it is not an "open" Blog site, in the sense that anyone can post any comment without consequence. As abhorent as censorship is, unrestrained disrespect for other members, regardless of point of view, is unwelcome.

Membership is through invitation. Any interested member of the Tulane community may ask to receive an invitation.

The Moms II Blog is our public face, with numerous links to a variety of information sources.

The Moms Blog also maintains a companion egroup on Yahoo that is private, moderated, and strictly limited to Moms -- a place where they can "let their hair down", and share more than baking tips. ;)

Slowly the Blog has added many "contributors" -- members who respect and tolerate differing points of view -- to the public as anonymous as they choose to be, and in private, as free and open as they care to be. This formula has been very effective.

I offer this as encouragement to the students, and to Brett, to carry on, and to look constructively for ways to keep it together, whatever "it" is.

And, yes, you are invited to check out the Moms Blog anytime, at www.tumoms2.blogspot.com

--nancy s

6:35 AM  
Blogger returningjuniors said...

Dear Brett,
while your optimism is encouraging, our visit to new orleans this past week proved to be quite different from that of your two friends. In the areas surrounding campus, many street lights still are not functioning. Many streets are closed, making it very difficult to drive anywhere. There is garbage outside of almost every home and in the middle of the streets (including toxic refrigerators everywhere). Our house ( which is 1 block away from campus) had 1 foot of water in it. While this may not sound too devastating, there is now mold 5 feet up the wall, making it unlivable until the house is completely gutted ( who knows how long that will take). There is no possible way either one of us would ever think to take a shower or brush our teeth in this filth. Yes, Tulane had a tremendous work effort taking place, however "brand new" is a major exaggeration when describing the entire uptown area. Both of us are determined to go back to Tulane in the Spring, however realistically it wont be 100% the same, and I think you and everyone else needs to start accepting that.

7:42 AM  
Blogger Brett Hyman said...

I don't think it will be 100% the same. I think it will be better and stronger.

RealityCheck- I'm not asking people to ignore the negatives. I'm saying that many of the negatives you have manifested are without foundation. Students, for the most part, are concerned with how their daily lives will be affected. This post simply stated that my friends were ALREADY able to carry out their daily lives. For a lot of students, this means something significant. Yes, there are tons of things to worry about. But this major issue is a closed case.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Brett Hyman said...

RC- Your inability to accept my "rosy" picture is exactly what I'm talking about. Reports from people who are there tell me they were able to do everything they normally do at Tulane; but parents, like RC, REFUSE to accept it. I've talked to a ton of students who went down the past 2 weekends, and they were not only optimistic but excited about getting back.

RC,do you think people believe your manifestations when the hard evidence is proving you wrong again and again? My post, which is based on actual reports and facts, simply speaks about the experience of students who went down there. I'm not dreaming up some rosy world, things really are getting better.

Do you have a shred of evidence that proves we will be "living in a nightmare?"

I didn't think so.

10:14 AM  
Blogger tennlane said...

I was in NOLA, around Tulane for the second time in three weekends this past weekend. We were moving my daughter and her roomate's belongings from an apartment on Freret that had flooding in the first floor apaartments and had a roof leak allowing water into her apartment. There was mold in the second floor apartment making it necessary for us to terminate the lease.

BE WARY OF THE APARTMENTS AT 5940 FRERET. THE LL IS NOT MAKING PROPER MOLD REMEDIATION ACTIONS AND IS PUTTING UP SHEETROCK OVER THE MOLD.
We were lucky to find a new place on Octavia a few blocks away.

10:22 AM  
Blogger tennlane said...

I also wanted to say that there have been real noticeable changes since we were last in NOLA two weeks ago. Trash has been picked up...though there is much more to go. Restaurants were opening.. we had lunch at Lebanon Cafe & dinner at Basil Leaf. Ice cream at Creole Creamery. People were working on repairing houses, cleaning yards, even cutting grass. More businesses were reopening. We had no difficulty driving around. Some streets were closed temporarily hile trash was picked up.. but no real problems.
We stayed at a B & B on St. Charles and did miss the sound of the street cars going by.
I believe the uptown area and Tulane will be a stronger place after dealing with this adversity.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Roadrider said...

Real-Time Reality

I'm sitting here in my house in N.O., looking out the window at the intersection of S. Claiborne and Broadway. The view looks much as it did B.K., except that the trees are thinner, thanks to the power company, and there's an Entergy crew working on replacing the traffic signals at that intersection. Traffic doesn't look any different from a normal B.K. day, other than the larger number of pick-up trucks. The extent of the flooding and damage varies greatly from block to block, affected by how high the houses were raised, how deep the water got, if there was major roof damage, and whether any large trees fell. I've been here since Friday. Things on my street are returning to normal gradually. Most of the nasty trash and refrigerators are long gone. I guess that around 20-30% of the houses in the immediate vicinity are occupied. It is quite dusty around here, but my ground-level basement that had about a foot of water in it doesn't smell any more moldy than usual. While there will certainly be a lot of houses around Tulane that won't be ready by January, I think that quite a few will be ready for occupancy. Many of the raised houses that just had a foot or so of water above the floorboards have had all, or at least the bottom 4 feet of sheetrock (or in many cases plaster and lath) removed and have been sprayed with anti-fungal spray and are drying out. The basic job of replacing sheetrock walls, floating and painting is usually about a two-week job. In many cases a/c-heating systems will need to be replaced after that. The pace of the work, where it is ongoing, is brisk. BTW, the weather here today is fantastic!

11:44 AM  
Blogger RealityCheck said...

Brett,

I understand the reports from your friends are positive, that they are able at least in the short term to maintain a 'normal' life. Will that be the case when everyone gets back to school, when thousands of students, faculty and staff will be there? Does it appear 'normal' because they can get things done because only about 1/2 the residents are back and they don't have school and studying to worry about?

The 'rosy' reports from your friends is not 'hard evidence'. Its not that I refuse to accept them, but I'd like to see for myself, or get reports (including videos and pictures) from people that don't have an agenda to push. You said in your post to let the parents see it for themselves. You are actually hurting your cause by creating overly positive expectations about the situation parents are going to encounter in NOLA in November. I don't see where this major issue is closed until parents can see the situation for themselves.

Yes, things are getting better down there. If you are so optomistic about the situation, why do you have a post saying students should fight parents on the issue now, when these same "ignorant" parents are going down to see the situation for themselves? Do you really think even 'some' of us parents (although I'm sure you think I'm one of them) are being 'ignorant'? Do you think that we got to the point in our lives where we can send our child to Tulane because we were 'ignorant'?

The only 'nightmare' the parents will be living in will be the first call from their child in the Spring that they are at best unhappy because Tulane and NOLA aren't what Brett's HARD EVIDENCE AND REPORTS weren't what they were said to be.

11:50 AM  
Blogger patty said...

RC - you remind me of my boyfriend's little brother. It doesn't matter what anyone says. They are wrong. You pick apart everything they have to say, and make yourself out to be the only one with any sense. What i think you need to do is evaluate your ability be happy. I realize this is a hard situation, but you seem to want to make it bad, that way when it is all said and done there is no way you can be disapointed. And while this defence mecanism may seem to work now you will find that life is much better if you look at it with some optimism once in a while. Maybe you should read "Freedom to Be", by Everett Shostrom Ph.D. Just a thought.

1:45 PM  
Blogger greenwave said...

it will be a nightmare to hear your child say that they are unhappy? you are pampering your children too much. part of life is dealing with adversity. if they can't handle a little adversity then maybe they aren't ready for college. this semester will be filled with some good old fashioned character building and your child will learn to appreciate what he/she has when he/she sees how little so many people in new orleans now have.

1:54 PM  
Blogger tulane alumni said...

I've been reading over comments from this post and previous posts throughout the weeks. I finished undergrad work in 2004 and my masters in 2005, both at Tulane, and moved to Houston two weeks before the storm for work.

My heart and soul are still in New Orleans, so, after not finding out what I wanted to find out via internet, I traveled to New Orleans this past weekend to get a first hand look at the city. Parts of the city are ok, others are not. That includes parts of uptown. I found Freret to be the dividing line. Campus will be back up and running by January, that's for sure. Anything away from the river starting at Freret still needs work because it experienced substantial damage.

At no point during my three day stay did I feel in danger for my physical well being (at least not any more so than I normally experience in New Orleans). So the factors that need be considered when deciding to return should be city/state infrastructure and availability of proper housing. Starting with the latter, this may be a problem. I lot of apartments previously rented to college students need to be gutted and rennovated. Knowing the NOLA landlords as I do, this will take a very long time. As far as infrastructure; resturants, grocery stores, convienance marts, hardware stores, banks, and just about anything else you can think of are already up and running. Police, fire, and medical are intact and noticably present throughout the entire city.

But, I feel if I were still a student, there would be a major intangible factor in my decision making process. For me, leaving New Orleans was (at that time) the worst decision I ever made. Even though I don't live there anymore, I really want to get back and help with the rebuilding process. NOLA is such an incredible city with a rich culture and unique life style that I haven't found anywhere else in the world. Certain people are more adept to certain environments, and most Tulane students have become accustomed to the culture of NOLA. I didn't realize how much I loved it until I left it. The city probably will never be what it once was, but to not even give it another chance, to me, is unthinkable.

1:58 PM  
Blogger uptowner said...

i just wanted to throw in my two cents as to what it's like to really be living in uptown right now. i have been back in uptown since the day after it was reopened to residents and while the first day i was unsure if that was the right thing to do, now things really are starting to return to normal. bars and restaurants are busy...tchoup-n-joes on saturday night was packed and very fun i might add. i go grocery shopping at sav a center, pick up dinner at juans flying burrito and am taking classes at university college while i wait for tulane to reopen in january. im going back to my job at banana republic in lakeside on november 10th and i even had garbage collection the other day! yes there are still areas of uptown where traffic signals arent working, but its not a big deal...you just stop. look both ways. and when its your turn...you go. off campus housing will obviously be an issue in january but i think by then many houses and apartments will have been renovated and ready to receive tenants. i have cable tv and high speed internet, gas stations are open and magazine street is looking great. the meter maids came back to work today and are kicking cars off the neutral ground of canal street and after a while you stop thinking that national guard humvees are a weird sight for a city. all in all, while it wont be the new orleans it was the day before the hurricane, it is still here, it is still my favorite place to live (ive lived in three countries), it is growing stronger everyday and i can assure you its not a toxic, unsafe place to live.

2:17 PM  
Blogger RealityCheck said...

patty said...

"RC - you remind me of my boyfriend's little brother."

Gee, I'm hurt. lol

"It doesn't matter what anyone says. They are wrong."

You evidently can't figure out the difference between saying someone is wrong and questioning whether they are right.

"You pick apart everything they have to say, and make yourself out to be the only one with any sense."

Yes, 'cause y'all make it so easy.

Now comes the amateur psychiatrist part:

"What i think you need to do is evaluate your ability be happy. I realize this is a hard situation, but you seem to want to make it bad, that way when it is all said and done there is no way you can be disapointed. And while this defence mecanism may seem to work now you will find that life is much better if you look at it with some optimism once in a while. Maybe you should read "Freedom to Be", by Everett Shostrom Ph.D. Just a thought."

Once again, I'm not saying you are wrong, but I'm questioning whether you are right.

8:18 PM  
Blogger RealityCheck said...

greenwave said...

Now another amateur psychiatrist chimes in . . .

"it will be a nightmare to hear your child say that they are unhappy? you are pampering your children too much. part of life is dealing with adversity. if they can't handle a little adversity then maybe they aren't ready for college."

Ok, now here's the difference: You are wrong. Even if you think you know me, you DON'T know my child. You have no basis for your statement.

8:21 PM  
Blogger greenwave said...

i'm sorry that i offended you for suggesting that you are pampering your child too much, but saying

"The only 'nightmare' the parents will be living in will be the first call from their child in the Spring that they are at best unhappy"

to me sounds like you are sheltering your child. i am not trying to be an amateur psychiatrist, i am trying to be rational. trying to protect your child from never being unhappy is a terrible thing to do. i'm not trying to tell you to do anything because it is none of my business, just like whatever i do is none of your business. i'm sure there will be times when all of us students are a little overwhelmed by what we see outside of our bubble at tulane and uptown and become upset, it is only natural. but there will also be times where we are having a great time with our friends and couldn't be happier. i happen to think that the latter will happen much more often.

like i said earlier, adversity builds character. to truly be happy you have to see the other side of the spectrum. to understand the value of what you have, you have to see what others don't have.

again if this offends you then i am truly sorry because it is not my intentions. i am merely trying to engage in a discussion over a statement that you said in one of your posts.

8:55 PM  
Blogger Ocatillo said...

Perhaps therein lies the key: Uptowner has lived in 3 countries, and is not put off by the unsterile mess of present day NOLA.

If you relish the people and are not put off by their meager surroundings, you will grow from the experience.

5:42 AM  
Blogger tulanedad said...

I took my daughter to N.O. over the weekend to get her things and was expecting the worst. Her apartment is one block from the BOOT and was in perfect condition, like the day she left. I was very surprised and I know her situation may not be the norm. As a previous poster noted, damage varies from block to block. Properties on the northeast side of campus (Calhoun) fared much worse and got 5-6 feet of water versus 2-3 feet on the Broadway side. But, if you are on Calhoun less than two blocks from St. Charles there is little or no damage - sprinklers watering the immaculate landscaping. There were a lot of people out enjoying the beautiful day from Uptown down Magazine all the way to the French Quarter. [Go to
http://www.mapper.cctechnol.com/floodmap.php and click on the map to see max water depths.]

We came in from the airport on S. Carrollton and there is extensive damage and no traffic lights functioning until St. Charles?

As a parent I had mixed emotions, there is much work to be done to bring the city back, but there was life. My daughter was quiet, taking it all in and I wasn't sure what she was thinking. As we were leaving she said "You know Dad I know that there's no one here [students] but I want to stay. I love it here."

Do I fully understand it? No, but I do know she has not waivered in her desire to return to Tulane since day one. In that light there is much hope for Tulane and New Orleans.

11:30 AM  
Blogger RealityCheck said...

greenwave said...

"it will be a nightmare to hear your child say that they are unhappy? you are pampering your children too much."

I said "at best" unhappy. Things could be a lot worse. I was trying not to be negative. And BTW, if my child was pampered, they wouldn't be going to Tulane. Lots of other parents wouldn't let their kids go to Tulane because it was in NOLA. And my kids is far from pampered, just ask him/her.

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All the best!

6:58 AM  

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