Letter to the Editor: Remember our real motto

Collin McCadden

In my four years at Tulane, I have witnessed the school grow and change tremendously. I came here knowing the university and New Orleans itself were undergoing a renaissance of sorts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The school has become more academically excellent, more highly regarded and more selective.

Tulane jumped in the U.S. News & World Report rankings from the 54th best National University in 2014, when I applied, to the 40th most recently. The acceptance rate has gone from 26 percent in 2014 to 17 percent for the incoming Class of 2022. These trends will continue.

Tulane has changed socially and culturally as well. Tulane has a vibrant nightlife and party culture that is no doubt influenced by the “laissez les bons temps rouler” attitude of New Orleans. Yet the party culture at times verges on the debaucherous and even the dangerous. The Tulane administration is currently grappling with the school’s party culture in light of several drug and alcohol-related student deaths, the recent Sexual Misconduct Climate Survey and The Princeton Review naming us the nation’s No. 1 party school in 2018.

New procedures and policies are being enacted to make Tulane safer and to hamper the excesses of the night. As a member of a fraternity at Tulane, these initiatives are important to me. Greek organizations will undoubtedly need to work with, rather than against, the school to achieve common goals. The line between fun and safety and the line between freedom and responsibility are important ones to walk. I believe the trend of Tulane’s increasing academic excellence is coalescing with the trend of Tulane cultivating a safer and healthier culture.

In his September 2017 Special Message on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, President Fitts discussed the need to address issues stemming from “Tulane’s culture of excessive partying.” He referenced Tulane’s “unofficial motto of ‘work hard, play hard.'” While this may be an unofficial motto of Tulane, at this important time in our university and our nation’s history I would like to instead call attention to Tulane’s official motto: “non sibi, sed suis” — not for oneself, but for one’s own.

This powerful motto reminds us of the importance of selflessness and of contributing to the greater good of society and humanity at large. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, President Scott Cowen re-envisioned a university in which community engagement was a central component and in which education, research and public service were integrated. He envisioned a university in which all students would grow to become “engaged citizens and future leaders of the world.”

While The Princeton Review in 2018 may have ranked us as the No. 1 school under the “Lots of Hard Liquor” category, we also ranked first in “Most Engaged in Community Service.” Tulane was the first university in the nation to adopt a service learning graduation requirement. We produced more Peace Corps volunteers in 2018 than any graduate school in the country. We have an incredible social innovation and social entrepreneurship program of which I was a part.

As I prepare to graduate and think about my future and what I hope to accomplish, I think of not only my own private self-interest but also of the public interest. I think of not just myself, but of my own — my own brothers and family, my own school, my own home state and my own country. And fellow Tulanians, I encourage you to do the same. I encourage you to remember our real motto: non sibi, sed suis.

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