OPINION | Practice gratitude after safe, fun Mardi Gras

Phoebe Hurwitz, Views Editor

(Will Embree)

In the days and weeks leading up to Mardi Gras’ annual celebration, Tulane University students may have been found preparing colorful, sequined outfits, making sleeping arrangements for visiting friends and family and resolving academic commitments for the party to come. 

Fewer students, however, may have been preparing for the potential surge in crime associated with the Carnival season. 

In the aftermath of Mardi Gras, students recovering from the long weekend of partying should shift their feelings of fatigue to gratitude, because although they may not have been preparing for it, crime nonetheless tainted the Mardi Gras festivities. 

Tulane University’s Police Department’s Mardi Gras Safety page warns students of the potential influx of crime during Carnival season, providing a list of several precautions to take in preparation of and during Mardi Gras. 

Of course, it can be discouraging and exhausting to constantly be alert for criminal activity, especially during a celebratory time like Mardi Gras. 

We must remember, however, that privilege does not equate to invincibility. It is quite easy as a Tulane student celebrating a rich New Orleans tradition to forget the struggles of the city that provides this incredible celebration. 

Now more than ever, New Orleans is a city that struggles tremendously with crime. To not be vigilant and take extra precautions during high traffic times like Mardi Gras only exacerbates the work of law enforcement services attempting to reduce crime and keep us safe while we celebrate.  

During Mardi Gras, an estimated 1.4 million visitors come to the city of New Orleans. With more than double the usual amount of residents and with the aid of strongly poured drinks starting early, crime can reasonably be expected to increase. 

Certainly, the fun of the Mardi Gras celebration should not be extinguished by criminals hoping to take advantage of joyful participants; however, as Tulane students, we have the advantage of being familiar with our surroundings, and we should use this advantage to be diligent. 

Fortunately, most Tulane students were able to enjoy their Mardi Gras weekend without facing some of the harsher realities of living in a city. However, the aggravated stabbing that occurred outside The Boot Bar and Grill on March 1 shows that crime is much closer than we may be apt to think. 

Crime has likely become a serious consideration, particularly for student workers. Students employed at The Boot or other bars off-campus may be even more vulnerable, as the incident suggests. Again, this is to say that crime may be much closer than those of us celebrating want to admit. 

New Orleans is a phenomenal city with festivals, parades, parties and traditions that never seem to end and never disappoint. New Orleans also has one of the highest rates of violent crime of any city in the nation. The light that reflects off the Mardi Gras glitter has the potential to cast a fatal glare in our eyes. 

Adding an addendum to the well-known Tulane saying “work hard, play hard,” we might advocate “work hard, play hard, stay smart.” 

Tulane students are not and should not be known for a reputation of ignorance. We are able to attend a rigorous academic institution in a bustling city precisely because we use our critical thinking skills the entire time. 

Although the high rates of crime during Mardi Gras may mar our image of a unified celebration of life, this is just part of learning to live in a city. More importantly, enjoying Mardi Gras while also understanding the dangers and necessary precautions is imperative in Tulane students’ understanding of our own privilege.  

We may not be able to control the things that happen to us, but we can control how we prepare and how we react. 

If we are well prepared for any scenario and the worst happens, we can be grateful that we have the resources and the community to address it, when other members of our city may not. This is a lesson in gratitude.

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