OPINION | POV: You’re a senior

Phoebe Hurwitz, Views Editor

(Will Embree)

In August of 2019, Tulane University welcomed another new batch of college freshmen to campus. This August — three years later — they return to campus for one last time as seniors. On the final lap of what feels, in hindsight, like a sprint to adulthood, let’s pump our brakes and see what we’ve overcome. 

What started as a normal school year abruptly and dramatically imploded when President Mike Fitts announced — just after Mardi Gras — that Tulane students would be sent home for the remainder of the year due to COVID-19. The gravity of the situation set in as we all traveled home, scattering across the country like Mardi Gras beads tossed from a parade float.

Returning the next fall, in August of 2020, campus looked a little different. Monroe Quad, Berger Family Lawn and Newcomb Quad were covered with tents converted into temporary classroom spaces. Strict rules were implemented for the safety of Tulane students and staff, like testing mandates and social distancing guidelines. In circumstances which were less than ideal, we were just grateful to be back at all. 

People often say, “The third time’s the charm.” Tulane’s class of 2023 held steadfast to this sentiment as we entered our junior year. Within months, we were reminded of the power of Mother Nature.

At 7 p.m. on Aug. 28, 2021, President Fitts once again announced dramatic news in an email aptly named “Hurricane Ida’s Shift Towards New Orleans.” Within a day, Ida had moved in our direction, and the school year was again put on pause to ensure the safety of the community. 

As the hurricane inched closer, many students living on campus took shelter in dorms and other buildings. In what seemed to have become a familiar pattern, off-campus students — who were able to — fled across the country for yet another time. Students returned to campus almost a month later, ready to continue with the year as planned, but by this time, we had learned not to rely much on any type of plan.

The spring semester of 2022 came to an end in the most traditional way we could have imagined, especially considering the turbulence of the past years. As with any closing door, the end of summer 2022 indicates a fresh start as the fall semester begins.

As Tulane’s senior class begins their final year, the only prediction to be made is that it will be unpredictable. Certainly, the Class of 2026 will not have the experience as the Class of 2023, despite going through (supposedly) the same motions. 

There has been a constant over the past three years for Tulane students: opportunity. Through each hiccup, Tulane students have adapted and seized the opportunity presented each time. 

In the case of being sent home in 2019 for COVID-19, Tulane students and faculty took the time to learn the new world of digital education. Following Hurricane Ida, Tulanians took the opportunity to help our neighbors and the city that has been our home throughout these years. 

In some cases, opportunity may have presented itself in a more nuanced way, but regardless, each event led us all here to Tulane — again or for the first time — where we will find an all-new set of possibilities. 

There is solace in knowing that this year we will continue to utilize our adaptability — a quality we have developed well over the past few years. Whether the start to the school year goes according to plan, or we are faced with another challenge, we are at the cusp of a new season brimming with opportunity. 

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