Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Tulane Village

A very interesting interview with Scott Cowen on NPR (which can be found by clicking here) confirms my prediction that Tulane will become a stronger school both academically as well as physically. In the interview, Scott Cowen shows the broad range of thinking that the university administration has covered. He mentions the plans to build a large self-contained village with housing, schooling, and shops for students and faculty. My guess is that this village be located in Uptown Square, down Broadway closer to the river (where there was virtually no damage). Tulane purchased Uptown Square a few years ago as a potential secondary campus and secondary housing area. It will probably have shuttle service for the 4 minute ride from the center of campus. This is exciting for me, as I had forgot about Uptown Square until I heard this interview. On top of this, local retailers and especially supermarkets have come back online much faster than predicted. According to many reports, the community will be in very good condition by the time we get back. And if not, Tulane will have its own community for faculty, staff and students.

In this interview Scott Cowen also shows how he is thinking outside the box about the potential long-term affects of Hurricane Katrina. Cowen discusses the implications of getting an education in New Orleans. Plans to shrink the student body and RAISE academic standards will heavily increase Tulane’s attractiveness to students and faculty. It will allow Tulane to keep providing us with a quality education and potentially increase the quality. However, the “Tulane experience” will also be enhanced. New programs to focus on the Hurricane and efforts will give students an opportunity to experience a hands-on academic experience. Tulane will be able to provide students with one thing that NO OTHER UNIVERSITY (outside New Orleans) can. They will be able to teach, learn and study the Hurricane and its affects from a primary perspective- in a place that experienced it all.

Sadly, many staff and faculty have lost or will lose their jobs. My assumption is that this is a financial decision. I know Tulane will make up for this by continuing as leaders in the New Orleans economy. When there was a big government fight over the minimum wage a few years back, Tulane raised it on campus and demonstrated to the city their support- resulting in the new law. This is just one example of how Tulane is a leader in the New Orleans community.

Class schedules posted!!

Good News: Class schedules are posted here!!!
Bad News: Business school will have many classes on Friday.

Good News: A LOT of classes are available next semester in all schools.
Bad News: Business school will have many classes on Friday.

Sad but true. We can't be wimps though. I think I can handle a 2pm or 4pm. Anytime earlier than that is another story...

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Tulane Academics Will Improve

Yeah, I Went There

Today I received a report from a girl who was in New Orleans. She called me from her hotel room in the French Quarter to give me a detailed update the status of New Orleans. (I try to get at least one person call me from New Orleans every few days). My friend told me her house uptown was a “total loss” and most of her stuff was unsalvageable. I solemnly tried to console her, when the tone of her voice surprised me. She said, “it’s so happy down here, people are out drinking, enjoying the French Quarter and there is just so much life. I can’t wait to come back.” In a fit of confusion, I asked her how she was feeling. Her optimistic tone enlightened me. She spoke of how many restaurants and hotels are open, how there are just armies of workers fixing campus, and how things are lively in the Quarter. She said that our experience at Tulane would be unscathed. Today, she witnessed an enormous loss; but her spirits conveyed a sense a pleasant optimism.

I think this brings up a very interesting point; one which I will illustrate with my experiences over the past few days. I attended a town hall meeting at USC, where the intelligent and eloquent Dr. Cherry spoke about her firsthand expeience at Tulane. She also answered tough questions, and admitted areas in which things were goinrg to be difficult, and areas in which they still didn’t have answers. There's no doubt about what the main issues are. There's no doubt that we are going to have a few obstacles to overcome. But the Tulane Administration has no doubt that we will.

The theme that I took out from Dr. Cherry’s speech was exactly the same as the theme in my conversation with my friend who is in New Orleans. The theme is, “New Orleans will NOT be the same for a few years. However, Tulane will live on and grow, both academically and socially. The worries seem to be unfounded, and the hard evidence is pointing in a positive direction” From an academic standpoint, I have learned that Tulane has a tremendous commitment to maintaining its academic integrity. Consequently, Tulane IS going to bounce back from this as a greater academic institution. Yeah, you heard me. I’m going to suggest that Tulane will not just come back, but they will move up in the ranks, significantly. First of all, Tulane has managed to sustain all of its world renowned professors. In fact, this “break” has given them the opportunity to do more research, write/publish more, and design better curricula. One of the main factors that I miss about Tulane is, in fact, the wonderful professors. Maybe some of you enjoy professors at your new schools, but I absolutely miss many from my Tulane past. I think these professors will come back significantly more equipped to teach the material. Moreover, I know they will also return energized about the opportunity to bring Tulane back. The professors can singlehandedly improve the quality of our education. Additionally, Tulane is not going to lower their admission standards. Currently, applications are up from this time last year. Yes, I know what you are thinking. Will all of those people who are applying actually attend Tulane? No way. But when Tulane reopens, these prospective students will have a chance to see it all for themselves. I think Tulane’s commitment to reconstruction will comfort many prospective students’ fears and convince the many skeptical freshmen to attend. Tulane is encouraging prospective students just to apply. This way, they can woo them the same way they wooed us, by showing us the beautiful campus and giving them a taste of the culture. This segways in my next argument- how the city culture will come back.

Simply put, the city is already coming back fast. In very little time, things will appear the same, to the naked eye. The areas that you have experienced at one time or another in your Tulane life are virtually restored. Yes, there is going to be permanent damage here and there, but according to every report that I’ve received; most of the restaurants and music halls are open or planning to reopen in a matter of weeks. Hotels will be open in a month. Many people are permanently living uptown again. My biggest concern of all is the off-campus housing situation. Stay tuned for a post on this, as Tulane plans to make announcements in the next 2 weeks. However, let me calm your fears and say they are aware of the issues and they are seriously working on it. Yes, many places will need significant repair that will take a long time, but Tulane has a plan of action and a large team working every day on this. Just give it some time for this sticky situation to be solved.

Now, I was going to write all about how the social life will come back too, but I’m getting tired, so I’ll just touch on it. The social life isn’t about whether F&M’s comes back, or Ms. Mae’s. It’s about the people. At Tulane, we enjoy our social interaction because of the people. I can’t reiterate enough how much I love the unique blend of students that come to Tulane. Where I am attending school they do have some great people, and I’ve made some great friends. However, nothing compares to my Tulane family.

We’ll be back.

Brett

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Tulane Annoucement Post- Part 1

Tulane’s recent announcements were exactly what I was looking for. First of all, the deadline extension was a clearly necessary decision. Now everybody has a reasonable amount of time to see and assess the progress on campus. Another positive announcement is that the university is extending the payment deadline for fall tuition to May 1, 2006. Of course this will help anyone out who is still financially unstable due to the hurricane. In even more exciting news: priority registration will be available November 9-18! We have to start choosing classes now- that's really exciting for me, and hopefully many of you.

I encourage all people to make an attempt to come back to survey campus. This includes the few who made the final decision not to go back. Considering all the reports I have heard and pictures that I have seen, I think that many of you will change your mind. Most likely, some have made the decision to move on, and that’s ok. But we hear many are planning to come back. In fact, Tulane is reporting applications for next year are up from this time last year! Do I think these students will still need to be convinced? Yes. But at least we are getting their foot in the door.

My personal favorite announcement is these organized campus visits. They are exactly what I hoped for Tulane to do. This way, many people can meet each other while giving campus a feeling of life. Therefore, I encourage everyone to come out for the November 5th meeting; I’m going to try to attend as well. A good addition would be to get all the upperclassmen to come out during this weekend and meet with the freshmen. I t would be extremely beneficial for us all to talk to the freshman and maybe even show them around. I’ll try to organize some kind of function where the students can meet up very easily. That of course, depends on the creation of some system in which we can find out who that is coming. I'll work on that, if you have ideas then email me.

Expect another post later today with details.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Big Week For Information

Hey Everybody-
Hope all is well and you are enjoying the change in weather. There are going to be a bunch of annoucements this week regarding how they can help us with off-campus housing, the withdrawal deadline, coming back and gettting stuff on-campus, ect. I'm looking forward to watching these annoucements and commenting on them. I hope you'll join me in analyzing the administration's decisions. I'd like us to work together to facilitate the transition from recovery to reconstruction.

Reports from New Orleans this weekend were really optimistic. Supposedly Tulane and Loyola look brand new and uptown is opening up fast. I'll have new pics soon. If you are looking for info on what specific businesses are reopening, www.bizneworleans.com is a good site. Whole Foods has already offered delivery service until they get back up and running. However, they expect the New Orleans and Metairie stores to be up within the next month!

On another note, I'll be making annoucements about non-profit organizations and about my ideas to help unify the students before and after we get to Tulane. So stay tuned, I hope for a busy week.

Brett

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I’m Appalled

I’m sorry the mom’s blog got shut down. I wasn’t able to look at this blog for one day. I came back, and everything I fought to prevent did too. I had about 60 emails from students who are blatantly embarrassed about all negative things that moms have been saying. The fact of the matter is, you don’t belong here. This isn’t a fair and balanced site where people can mindlessly attack each other. We don’t care about “the other side” of the issues. It’s MY site and I get to pick the content. Your rude, distasteful, and ignorant comments make us all sound like idiots. Stop commenting and go make your own site. If you don't, I will remove commenting all together. This site is here for ME to post MY thoughts about Tulane. The site is here because most of the students benefit from hearing and talking about the positive aspects of Tulane. For me, this site is therapy; and it is also therapy for many students. That’s all there is to it.

So now, I’m asking nicely. This isn’t a site for upset mothers. This is a site for students. This isn’t a site for ranting or for negativity. This is a site for people who love Tulane. I ask that you go make you own site, and get your garbage off my site.

PS- I can’t believe that students have to beg to their parents to stop this insanity. It’s disgraceful.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Significant Progress

More pictures of the campus reconstruction efforts. It looks fabulous. Thanks to David Murphy, a true reporter in the field.

Click Here

Tulane Mom Blog Shut Down

I heard the administrator of the blog (whichwas so heavily promoted here) decided to shut down the site because she couldn’t take the “garbage” anymore. I can’t believe that parents could not restrain themselves from attacking each other and the creator of the site. I’m so proud that Tulane students don’t need to lower themselves to that level. Maybe a few mothers can take a lesson from their kids.

PS- Don’t bring that crap over here.

Love,
Brett

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Resurrection

Tulane webmail is up! www.webmail.tulane.edu. Hopefully we will be seeing a lot more communication soon.

Tulane Will Live Again!

Please note- there are two posts today! Read them both, as one asks you to help Tulane out.

It has been hard to measure the effectiveness of this site. We have had over 111,000 unique visitors. Since Tulane's population is under 14,000 that seems like a whole lot. Nevertheless, I've gotten emails from students and parents alike, saying how much this site has helped or hurt their hopes of a Tulane future. Right now, I'm going to prove this site worked in generating the support that Tulane needs.

The naysayers took over this site for quite some time. There was little news coming out of Tulane and Rita was about to hit. Things just didn't look good. Once I got rid of the anonymous option, both positive and negative posts declined but the number of visitors increased exponentially. Interestingly, many of the naysayers disappeared for good. We all know of one particular naysayer, who has created his own site to bash Tulane and the community. He is an alumni and a parent of a student; and he preached of a "reality" that Tulane will never be the same. He inferred that students would never come back, and the city should be “razed”. He told us that we were all in some kind of coping defense mechanism and that we should give up hope. I’m sure he bothered many of you, but I’m not going to attack him because of his opinions. He has the right to say what he wants, I’d rather him do it somewhere else; but if he needs to do it here, so be it. I never deleted his comments because I do stand for the freedom of speech- as long as its relevant to the site. He posted stuff that I thought had no factual basis, and shouldnt have stayed on this site. But I figured that soon, his day would come.

And I think it did, as I found this on his site:

"I was supposed to get my kid back from her ‘visiting’ school last night. What I got back was someone who was straight out of the Brett Hyman school of unbridled optimism. The whole drive home from the train station was like reading Brett’s blog. I also keep hearing many other students are acting the same way. Which made me think of the old expression, “there must be something in the water”. The conotation of course is that all of these people who are acting the same way because someone laced the water with something. The reality is, these kids are spread all around the country, and most didn’t even have a chance to drink the pre-Katrina Tulane water before being evacutated. So their attitudes must come from some other source. Kool Aid (Jim Jones – The People’s Temple reference) can’t be the answer either.

So what is it? I don’t know, but I’ll spend the next few days finding out."

Am I going to claim that this site created that type of enthusiasm and support in a student who hadn’t spent more than a few hours on campus? Nope. I think YOU guys did it. I’m sure the site was a great starting point for them, but I know that you are all out there confirming what I’m saying about Tulane. The naysayer is right; many didn’t have a chance to taste the water. But they did have a chance to read this site, and talk to all of you! They realized that Tulane is an unrivaled, unparalleled family of students and faculty that have a unique relationship with the city and the community.

Hearing this on his site did my heart very well. Emails are flooding in from tons freshmen who made the decision to return upon Scott Cowen’s announcement of a Spring semester. Even the ultimate naysayer couldn’t explain why a freshman would be so excited about the fact that we are coming back in the spring. But we know exactly why. Oh, we’ll be back in the spring- and boy am I excited.

PS- If he comes on here to bash us, don't listen to his rants. Form your own opinions about the issues. Even is you disagree with me, just do it with your own facts and beliefs.

Now, check out the following post!!!

A Story That Made Me A Believer

MESSAGE TO UPPERCLASSMEN: START A FACEBOOK GROUP AT YOUR NEW UNIVERSITY- CALL IT “Tulane @ ______” For example “ TULANE @ BU”. Create the facebook group in the TULANE facebook. Do it in the Tulane facebook because I want all Tulane students to be able to search for it and join it. Make sure you search for the group before you create it so there aren’t two group about the same school! We are going to use these groups to connect with Tulane students at our new schools and hopefully talk about issues such as returning to Tulane. Hopefully you can focus on finding a bunch of freshmen and meet up with them. Organize a party or a dinner, get together and tell them why they should be coming back to Tulane in the spring. If you want my help organizing anything, please feel free to invite me to the group and I will try to facilitate things. The least we can do is reach out to freshmen at our new universities. And to the freshmen, you gotta join the group so we know who you are!

Now for today’s post:

The great debate is about the future of the student body. Some people ask how big the freshman class with be, others ask whether there will be one at all. Clearly, a lot of freshmen have seen this site, so let me clear some things up for them. I speak to a ton of people, every single day. I get heartfelt emails from students who were helped by my site. I get confused emails from students who were perplexed by my site. And I get angry emails from students who think I’m merely a cheerleader for Tulane. Listen, I’m not concerned with what you think the intentions are for this site, but here are the facts about why I think you all will come back:

When I first put together this blog, a girl named Alli contacted me via email. She noticed that we were from the same hometown, so she sought a bit of advice about what she should do. Alli was a freshman at Tulane who was on campus for maybe 4 hours. She, along with almost 2,000 other freshmen, was told to go home before they even made a new home at Tulane. Alli and I became friends, and I spoke to her on many occasions about my experiences at Tulane. I told her everything that I’ve said on this site: about the Tulane family and the about uniqueness of the city and its culture. I told her that it may not be the same, but that that didn’t matter because the community will be even better. You see, she wasn’t deciding whether to transfer, she was deciding what she was going to do until she could go back. She didn’t know whether she’d stay home and go to school or go to a college further away. However, she was sure about one thing. She was sure she was going back to Tulane. The thing Alli didn’t know was that I was learning from her too. This remarkable girl was showing dedication to a university that she hadn’t yet attended. She was showing loyalty to the commitment she had made. She was able to sense the Tulane Family that I speak of... It seemed that she had made this decision to return without even reading the site, but I don’t know that for sure. I dont think she knew about the Tulane family that I describe here, but I think she was actually able to sense that something was in fact different about us. So, she spent a couple of weeks deciding what she should do. She flew around the country visiting schools, some academically superior to Tulane. In the end, she came to me with sentiments that nothing compared to Tulane, and she would absolutely be ready to return in the Spring. Remember: she hadn’t been at Tulane even one night! I think this has to do with her ability to sense the family and the love that the students had for Tulane.

I tell this story because it is a perfect example of what Tulane is all about. I only hope that Tulane recruited people like Alli for this year’s freshmen class. I don’t expect every freshman to be as confidant as she is in Tulane, but I do believe that many are. It’s perfectly normal to have questions, concerns and doubts; but in the end, your hearts will guide you. I like analyzing her situation, because it shows remarkable resilience and resolve in someone who had developed virtually no connection with Tulane. She was able to overcome severe emotions in a complicated situation. For that, I congratulate her; that's quite a feat.

I couldn’t imagine in being in the shoes of any freshman. We expect everyone to come back, but the freshmen haven’t been able to experience Tulane or New Orleans. Now they are going to get comfortable in their new universities and many may be doubtful of whether they want to go through the process of coming back. But that statement was recently proved wrong. I learned that a lot of freshmen already decided that they are coming back. Thanks to this site, I’ve been able to communicate with hundreds of freshmen, some confused and others certain about their future. Wouldn’t you know it- turns out we have a lot more Alli’s than I thought. In fact, I would say about 90% of the people I talked to said they were certain they were coming back. Now, don’t feel weird if you are one of those people who aren’t sure about what to do. I’m sure there are a good number of you too. I know it is a tough decision, but I ask you to read my letter to the class of 2010, I think it applies to you too. If you really think you aren’t going to come back, I ask that you try to come back to New Orleans in Nov/Dec and see the place. I bet if we all came back together, we’d be able to show you what I've been describing. And finally, I ask that you find a Tulane student who is at your new university and meet up or talk to him or her. Start or look for a facebook group called “Tulane @ ____” and fill in the name of your university (make sure you search first to see if one exists already). I think many Tulane students will be more than happy to meet up and chat with you about the school and the importance of YOU ALL coming back. What an idea!

Let’s expand on that November or December visiting idea, because I really like it too. If Tulane becomes back up in November or December, they should have a back to school weekend. They should invite everyone back to see the university, the city, and the community. The freshmen can come back and see the place as it is, and they could meet each other. Upperclassmen can come back and do some work on their houses, and of course, act as ambassadors of the university. The whole city might not be back yet, but I’m sure there it will help sooth the fears of parents and students alike.

And speaking of our wonderful parents, I have a small appeal to you- since I know there are a ton of you reading this site. Please consider encouraging your kids to come back, or at least make up their own minds. I have heard of a lot of parents who are influencing their son or daughter not to come back, without giving him or her a chance to make this decision. This decision will affect the rest of their respective lives, and I think it was orignally made with good reason. I know you are worried and I can’t empathize with your feelings (since I have no children). But I can tell you that there won’t be anything to worry about in January. I think there is a reason this site has been around and gotten wonderful support. I also know that there really is a major difference in going to school in New Orleans and at Tulane, especially since I have been attending another university this semester. I promise you that we have the most wonderful collection of people at the school who will definitely be there when you get back. You have to believe in the spirit of New Orleans and the family of Tulane. And if you can’t; well, just know that we, the students, are all living proof.

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