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Why I Fight

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Joined: 10 Dec 2005
Posts: 355
Location: New Orleans

PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2006 12:31 am    Post subject: Why I Fight Reply with quote

A lot of people have commented that I should "give up, accept the decision and move on. I need to quit hurting Tulane, get over my bitterness, and do, well, whatever." Well, I'm stubborn. I'm not going to give up and here's exactly why.

I received the best education I ever could have at Tulane. It wasn't easy. I overloaded on classes. My grades could have been better. Things didn't always work out like I hoped they would. It was a struggle. The workload was like drinking from a fire hose, but I kept drinking. I was challenged. Now that I'm working in industry, I know the true value of a Tulane School of Engineering education. No matter what is thrown at me, I can eventually figure it out. The out of class experience was also key to me growing as a person. I went from a boy to a man at Tulane. I can honestly say that no other university could have prepared me as well as Tulane did. I'd rather have my Tulane degree than two from MIT and four from Harvard and every single degree ever offered from LSU! I will value my education at Tulane for the rest of my life. The "New" Tulane might yet turn out great graduates, but the "old" Tulane was actually doing it.

One thing that very few people seem to understand is how New Orleanians believe in tradition for tradition's sake. In New Orleans, everything that is new sucks and the older something is, the better it is, be it food, housing, or whatever else. New Orleans has always fought tooth and nail against changes of any kind. That's a major part of why New Orleans is the most screwed up city in America (crime, poverty, corruption, etc.), but that's also why New Orleans has a soul and has more right with it than any other city in America. In short, reverence for tradition is a major part of what makes New Orleans New Orleans.

There are some things that I just can't turn my back on. Think of the professors and their families. Think of how their lives, already in disarray from Katrina, have been thrown into chaos by the decision. Think of all the underclassmen that found the right school and city and were getting a great education and now must move on to lesser schools whose education will be adversely affected. I just can't turn my back on them.

Another reason I fight as hard as I do is there are those that aren't with us anymore. I'm thinking of two people in particular I had the honor of calling mentors. When I was growing up, Dr. Riess used to tell me all sorts of stories about Tulane and did everything he could to get me to go to Tulane. He was a man who literally dedicated his entire life to Tulane. Last May, even though he was slowly dying of old age, he endured tremendous hardship and pain to attend Tulane's commencement ceremonies and I was right there with him when he leaned over to me and said he wished he could die right then, because he would die happy. Unfortunately, he died on a military transport plane in the aftermath of Katrina.

When I was a senior in high school, I was trying to decide whether I wanted to study history or engineering. It was because of a meeting with Waldemar Nelson that I am now an engineer. Waldemar was known as an "engineer's engineer." One of the themes he constantly harped on was that "engineering is the foundation of civilization." The way I liked to think of that phrase was lawyers just suck the blood of others, without creating any new wealth, meanwhile engineers actually create new wealth by their actions. They solve problems and develop resources and apply science to push civilization forward. That's at least how I've interpreted that saying. Anyway, I am an engineer in large measure to what Waldemar told me that day. Waldemar lost his fight with cancer just weeks before the cuts were announced.

Ducky was the most dedicated graduate Tulane has ever produced and Waldemar was the most dedicated School of Engineering graduate. Despite all they did over the years, neither has had any voice in the most important time in Tulane's history. Knowing Ducky as well as I did, I'm sure, even though he was so weak he couldn't stand and could barely speak, he would have been one of the loudest voices of opposition against the Renewal Plan. I didn't know Waldemar as well as Ducky, but I think he'd feel the same way. They don't have a voice, and while I'm a poor substitute for two very wise and respected men, I have tried to honor them by saying what they would want to be said. They would have said it far more eloquently than I have and, by measure of their stature, commanded more attention, but I know in my heart they would have railed against the same things I have.

People out there might be right. Maybe I should just give up. It certainly would be easier. I'm not doing all of this in a vacuum, either. I've had plenty of positive reinforcement from Newcomb, Engineering, and Tulane College graduates who feel exactly the way I do.

It all boils down to one thing. When I think of the Renewal Plan 20 years from now, I'll be able to look myself in the mirror and say, "I did everything humanly possible to fight a decision that was profoundly unjust, corrupt, and was the biggest mistake in Tulane's history."

Will you be able to look in a mirror and say the same thing?
Clay Kirby
11th generation New Orleanian
4th generation Tulanian
Mechanical Engineering Class of '06
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Dr. Ash

Joined: 12 Dec 2005
Posts: 45
Location: New F'n Orleans

PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 4:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, and 20 years from now, you'll remember your major.
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Dr. H.

Joined: 10 Dec 2005
Posts: 37

PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 10:00 am    Post subject: 20 years from now Reply with quote

And 20 years from now any computer science of computer engineering major (and many other majors) can come in my door and say "What's up Doc?" and I will know your name and have your wedding and babies' pictures on my board.

That's what Tulane has lost and what Scott just hasn't gotten yet.

And, for those who want to know, the check cleared the bank.

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Joined: 09 Dec 2005
Posts: 121

PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2006 12:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glad to hear that. Smile
- Justin Mikowski
Computer Engineering '07
"Non sibi Sed Suis" -Not for one's self but for one's people.
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