With spring graduation ceremonies canceled or postponed, many class of 2020 graduates are disappointed that their official graduation day won’t be recognized the way they had anticipated. “That walk across a stage was earned through four (in my case, five) years of hard work and panic attacks — just to be taken away within a blink of an eye,” said Loyola University senior Christian Willbern in an Uptown Messenger column. While few deny the public health necessity of closing colleges, it was heart-rendering for many seniors to be abruptly banished from their campuses in the final months of their final year. Universities are finding ways to commemorate the day, often through virtual ceremonies to be followed by a delayed ceremony. Tulane University’s virtual ceremony marking the conferment of degrees to the class of 2020 will take place May 16.
Two Loyola University students and a faculty member went into a 14-day self-quarantine on March 10, at the request of the university, after attending a journalism conference and having lunch at a downtown restaurant with an individual who was later diagnosed with COVID-19 novel coronavirus. The students and professor have not displayed any symptoms, Loyola President Tania Tetlow said in a March 11 letter to the Loyola community announcing that all classes will taught online for the rest of the spring semester beginning Monday (March 16). Tetlow said the potential exposure was not the reason behind suspending on-campus classes. Tulane, Xavier, UNO and other local universities also have moved their classes online as more coronavirus cases are announced in New Orleans. “I have spoken to the director of state public health, who tells me that there is not a reason to broaden that circle more widely — those who later interacted with the faculty and students do not also need to self-isolate,” Tetlow said in the letter.
The City Council on Thursday approved two motions on parking and residential density in the University neighborhood. They are aimed at establishing an Interim Zoning District for the Uptown area near Tulane and Loyola with more stringent parking requirements than the rest of the city. It’s an unusual move for a council that normally prioritizes the creation of housing, particularly affordable housing, over parking. But the Uptown area near Tulane and Loyola universities has an unusual problem, with investors buying up homes and converting them to high-end multi-unit rentals marketed to students. “What’s occurring right now, particularly in the Maple neighborhood, is that doubles are being converted into dormitories,” said District A Councilman Joe Giarrusso at Thursday’s meeting.
In the heart of Gentilly, 25 acres of Federal Emergency Management Agency-funded space was recently granted to build Mirabeau Water Gardens, a place where water conservation will be modeled on a larger-scale. For Loyola professors Aimée Thomas and Bob Thomas, this was a dream ten years in the making. The idea for the grant stemmed from Loyola’s relationship with the Sisters of Saint Joseph, who donated the space to the city when they left it after Hurricane Katrina. “They actually wanted Loyola to take over the property once they deemed that they weren’t going to be there anymore to use it for environmental education,” Director of the Environment Program Aimée Thomas said. Since Loyola didn’t have the resources to manage the land, the grant was issued to the city of New Orleans and funded by the university, Entergy Corporation, AT&T and Waggonner & Ball Architects.
By John Casey, firstname.lastname@example.org
Loyola Student News Service
A new counseling center aiming to provide mental health services to struggling members of the New Orleans community has opened on the Loyola University Uptown campus. The Loyola Center for Counseling and Education opened in January, offering sliding-scale services to uninsured and underinsured New Orleanians. An official grand opening was held earlier this month. In attendance were many key individuals to the project, including Loyola University President Tania Tetlow and members of the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic. Maroon and gold balloons lined the walls to the center entrance where a red ribbon was cut by Tetlow in celebration of the opening.
It was slightly windy and rainy, but that didn’t stop the music of Uptown Sounds battle of the bands from sizzling. The event at Evans Park in the Freret neighborhood on Sunday, March 31, gave eight bands the chance to take the stage at the festival-style event. The winner was chosen by audience vote. Doctors, a dark-pop band, received a cash prize and a spot on the lineup for Freret Street Festival on Saturday (3:45 on Alder Hotel Stage at Valence Street). Competitors included Eamon and the Other Colors, Cosma Dog, Lonelygrrl, Anne Elise Hastings and Her Revolving Cast of Characters, Sympathy Wizard, John Scott and Colorblock.
Six bands will battle for a spot at the Freret Street Festival at a college student-produced music festival this weekend. “Uptown Sound” will bring music, food trucks, and more to Evans Playground (5100 Lasalle Street) this Sunday, March 31. The “battle of the bands” festival is produced by a committee of dedicated music industry young professionals from Loyola University New Orleans. The goal of the event is to bring together the Uptown college community with the local residents for an energetic fun-filled day of entertainment. The competing bands are Anne Elise Hastings and her Revolving Cast of Characters, Sympathy Wizard, Colorblock, John Scott, Lonelygrrl, and Doctors. Festival goers will vote for their favorite act of the day, and the winner will perform at the Freret Street Festival on Saturday, April 6. There will be samples of Big Easy Bucha and free bags of Chee Wee’s (for the first 300 people). Beer, wine and water will be sold, and food trucks will be at the site.
Loyola University New Orleans announces the opening of the “Loyola Center for Counseling and Education (LCCE),” a new sliding-scale counseling clinic offering mental healthcare to underserved members of the New Orleans community. The LCCE is hosted by Loyola University New Orleans’ Department of Counseling. The clinic is housed at 2020 Calhoun St. in Mercy Hall on Loyola University’s campus and is easily accessible from the surrounding residential area. The LCCE is presented in partnership with the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic & Assistance Foundation and Preservation Hall Foundation.
After spending her entire adult life behind bars, Michele Benjamin learned Monday that she will be able to go free, the Loyola University Law Clinic has announced. Benjamin, 41, was a teenager when she was sentenced to life without parole in 1996 for the murder of a German tourist in New Orleans. The Loyola law clinic began filing appeals in her case not long after life sentences for juveniles were ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012. That ruling, in Miller v. Alabama, was made retroactive by the Louisiana Supreme Court in 2016, paving the way for Benjamin’s release on parole. The circumstances of Benjamin’s case have inspired support in the local social justice community.
Loyola University New Orleans returns from the Thanksgiving holiday today under a groundbreaking new president. The Jesuit university made history this month with the Nov. 16 inauguration of Tania Tetlow as the university’s 17th president. She is the first woman and the first layperson to lead Loyola since the university’s founding in 1912. Tetlow is also the fourth woman president, as well as the youngest woman president, to lead one of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S.