Opinion: Tulane is no Kent State

Walk out of any building on Tulane’s campus during spring or summer, and you’ll be instantly be hit with air so thick it’ll feel like Mother Nature just slugged you in the gut.

It’s no wonder people refer to Louisiana as the bayou.

Weather is only one of several ways in which Tulane is vastly different than Kent State. There’s no doubt that newly-named Kent State president Lester Lefton will have some serious adjustments to make when he arrives in Ohio to begin his term.

Tulane’s campus, while smaller than Kent State’s, has a vastly more impressive and attractive layout. Every blade of grass is that forest green that you only thought existed in a 64-count box of Crayola crayons. Ivory sidewalks neatly criss-cross lawns across campus. Compared to the concrete jungle that is Kent State, it’s a welcome change of pace – even if the weather alone promotes human fatigue.

It’s nothing short of a miracle that Tulane’s campus is as pristine as it is. Yvette Davis, senior vice president for external affairs, said two-thirds of the campus was flooded after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

After spending almost $200 million toward clean-up efforts, it almost looks like nothing ever happened to the city of New Orleans, let alone Tulane.

The university’s student center is a different story. A new student center is under construction, so the current student center is a temporary artificial dome dubbed The Pavilion. Save for the Einstein’s Bros. Bagels on the inside of The Pavilion, it bares no similarities with Kent State’s Student Center and Risman Plaza.

Even the residence halls are different. Some of the dorms are structured like apartments – no lobby or building to enter, just a door that goes straight into your room. Shoes, clothes and beads litter the balconies outside of the rooms of students.

Gibson Hall, home of Tulane’s top administrators, is a sight to behold. Offices have oversized windows that light up the room, and the doors are bizarre – oak behemoths that are easily 10 feet tall. The interior of Gibson Hall is a genuine echo of the old South.

Once you leave the bubble that is Tulane’s campus, it becomes an entirely different story.

Houses in New Orleans are gutted from the inside, leaving only dangling electrical cords and chunks of foundation. Instead of typical trash cans on the curb, you’ve got piles of molding wood that were probably once bookcases, chairs and kitchen tables. Fluorescent markings on homes indicate that a house was searched, whom it was searched by, when it was searched and how many dead bodies were found inside.

Many of the homes sit off of the ground on pillars of various heights. FEMA trailers sit in front of homes – some people intend to rebuild what was lost, and some people want to demolish what remains of their homes and begin anew.

One can only imagine what this neighborhood looked like before the destruction. Houses differentiate greatly, as some are made of wood, stucco or brick. Despite the fact that all of the homes are so different, the majority of them are unified by a common Creole-French architecture theme. Enormous pillars, gorgeous balconies, wraught-iron gates, dangling beads and dramatic stairways are all indicative of the neighborhoods that surround Tulane.

Tulane University’s campus looks untouched – but the surrounding neighborhoods look like King Kong threw a temper tantrum in the street.

Contact College of Communication and Information reporter Ben Breier at [email protected].