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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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OPINION | Tulane’s Brown Field conversion further neglects students

Zach Kempin

In the latest episode of major student losses, Tulane will soon convert Brown Field into an indoor practice facility for the football team. 

The field hosts a variety of intramural sports and events and is beloved by students and the wider Tulane University community. The turf is seldom empty. The loss of a space at the core of the Tulane community is truly devastating and raises concern over what students will lose next. 

The project was originally announced by former athletic director Troy Dannen at the start of the year as a part of Tulane’s “Always the Audacious” campaign to transform the campus. The football team’s practice protocol during inclement weather involves buses to practice at the Caesars Superdome, costing $4000 a trip. At the time, Dannen stressed the importance of keeping former coach Willie Fritz at Tulane, stating that we “just gotta keep the guy in position to win.” 

Additionally, Dannen stated that it “is one thing to turn the President down, one thing to turn the AD down, but when the football coach who just won the Cotton Bowl is across the table, he’s going to be hard to turn down.” The request for an indoor facility likely stemmed from Fritz. 

Now, with champion coach Fritz gone, the athletics department should consider that circumstances have changed. Moving forward with a decision to prioritize athletics, primarily driven by money, demonstrates erroneous interests. Tulane should keep in mind that students are at the center of university goals before making decisions that severely threaten student activity. 

Although Tulane promised that the bubble will be available for public use when the football team is not practicing, the reality looks different. After meeting with Tulane athletics, Lauren Schenack, the Tulane Women’s Club Soccer president and intramural advisor, discovered that the bubble will have “one door in and out, locked at all times,” meaning “student access to the multipurpose indoor facility, aka ‘the bubble’ will be extremely limited.” 

Schenack expressed concern over athletics’ unwillingness to “commit the field space to the intramural program,” potentially causing “everyone else to beg time from them.” 

Asher Wexler, the president of the men’s club soccer team, said club sports in the past have been screwed over “through excessive last minute notices about space availability” and “left to fend for ourselves.” Moreover, Wexler said, Tulane has not “done anything to help us find fields or build connections.”

That athletics is not taking club sports seriously and treating them with little respect is deeply concerning. Registered student organizations should not be pushed around unfairly. According to Schenack, over 1,000 students partake in intramural sports while only 400 students are involved with athletics. Taking Brown Field and constructing a bubble demonstrates, Schenack said, that “a regular student’s Tulane experience is worth less than that of student athletes.’” 

As desperate as the situation sounds, not all hope is lost. Students recognize the importance and value Brown Field holds and are willing to fight back. On March 5, a Tulane student created a petition attempting to prevent the bubble’s construction, stating that “preserving” the field is necessary for promoting healthy living conditions for all students. Furthermore, the petition describes green spaces as offering more than aesthetics; they are important for physical and mental health. 

The consensus is clear; Brown Field is not for the taking, as over 752 students have already signed the petition. Students are a university’s constituents. The highly expensive tuition — around $88,266 annually — Tulane demands should be reflective of greater care and attention to the needs of its students. Yet, the opposite is true. From the junior residency requirement to the removal of an important common space, Tulane has taken enough. 

The implications of Tulane’s decision goes far beyond a loss of space. It sets a precedent for the administration to continue making profit driven decisions, rather than initiatives that hold benefits for all students. Although construction is already scheduled for the summer, students should make every effort possible to push back and send a strong message that we will not be disregarded. Sign the petition.

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