Post Author: Nate Koch
Going to America's #9 Party School in uptown New Orleans sounds like it'd be quite the bummer for kids like me, and honestly sometimes it is. I want to have awesome adventures that you can only have in New Orleans, I want to see great live music and stumble around outside The Boot every so often, but I want to feel like I'm doing all of that meaningfully, which I've come to learn can be a bit antithetical to college partying.
Thus, one of the Only At Tulane Only In New Orleans™ events I spent most of freshman year dreading was Crawfest, Tulane's high-clout crawfish + music festival that happens at the end of the school year. If you're not aware, Crawfest is kind of a huge deal. A highly exclusive student committee spends the whole year planning and executing the festival. Bands play all day on Newcomb and LBC quads. 20,000 pounds of crawfish are boiled and eaten in a single day -- which, depending on how you look at it, is either very impressive or a nightmarish shellfish genocide.
Everyone kept telling me that Crawfest was a great day of homegrown NOLA fun, but I had a very hard time seeing myself actually having a good time. I pictured wandering out of my dorm, trying to eat a crawfish, getting exhausted by the crowd, leaving early and spending the rest of the day simmering in my own homemade boil of fomo and melancholy.
So you could imagine I was relieved when in early April, people in Divest started discussing the possibility of staging some sort of festive demonstration to coincide with Crawfest. I thought: awesome. This is meaningful. This is the kind of political intervention the superficial antics of a crawfish festival needs. I'm gonna jump all the way into this.
And jump in, I did. Stepping forward for the first major time in Divest, I volunteered to bottom-line the painting of the banners that we would be dropping from the fourth-story balcony of Mayer Hall -- right across from the LBC quad. We wouldn't get permission from anybody, we wouldn't even warn administration -- we were just going to do it. We wanted to end the year with a fun, strong public demonstration to the student body that we as Divest are still strong, still active, and still committed to holding Tulane's board of trustees accountable for the irrevocable harm fossil fuels are doing to Louisiana.
I think between driving to get supplies, painting for two full afternoons, getting into Mayer and successfully dropping the banners despite the threat of rain and the resounding ambivalence of almost everyone at the festival, what I learned is how quickly political organizing brings you closer to the people you're working with.
I got to go on a Walmart date with Jess and decide which size bed sheets to buy (a personal dream come true). I hung out with Noa, Zak, Jess, Kelsey and Maria all afternoon while we painted, listening to music from the Disney channel circa 2006 while debating what the final "invest in:" category should be on the half-painted banner. After doing the drop, I sat around drinking orange daqs with everyone in Divest, all of whom I've grown to love and admire so much in the past six months of organizing.
I likely wouldn't have had much fun at Crawfest, but Crawvest was, in all honesty, one of the best days of my freshman year. Meaningful fun is completely possible to achieve in college -- you just need to look beyond the bottom of a crawfish basket.