Around two o’clock on any given Saturday on Tulane’s campus, you can witness a steady stream of girls stomping across campus in thick, white Fila sneakers, bikini tops, and cutoff shorts. The parade of girls is nothing concerning; if there is a party that involves a pool filled with murky, slightly suspicious looking water, you might as well head towards it. It’s a hot September afternoon and anything to help you cool off is more than welcome.
This Saturday crowd exemplifies the certain uniform that many Tulane students slip on. Tulane is a private institution, but I’m not talking religious high school khaki pants and plaid skirts. The unspoken, sometimes invisible uniform of Tulane students, particularly girls, is seen copy and pasted across campus. This “uniform” not only includes clothes that are seen on a daily basis, but the activities that people choose to participate in. Following and enjoying trends and social norms is not a bad thing at all. However, as I watch the freshmen fall into step with the masses of girls leaving the dorms on a Saturday, I hope that they don’t lose themselves in this conformity.
There are countless benefits to being at a school the size of Tulane: smaller class sizes, alumni connections, interactions with professors, etc. However, at a mid-sized school where the majority of students come from similar backgrounds or locations, there is an unknown trap that is all too easy to slip into. Whether it’s deciding what to wear or choosing how to spend a Saturday afternoon, many of us feel the pressure to conform to the masses.
Although it’s a cliche to say “stay true to yourself,” there is wisdom in this repeated mantra. I encourage freshmen and seniors alike to step back momentarily and check in with yourself to be sure that it is truly the way you want to live your life. The Tulane uniform could fit effortlessly into your life or it could feel a little too tight, unfamiliar, and constraining.
Too often we push aside what we came to college to do: explore. If you feel as though you’re forcing yourself to follow the crowd and not becoming the person that you truly want to be, there is still plenty of time to experience the things that you are curious about.
In a city as unique as they come, there are countless opportunities to see hundreds of sights and participate in activities, groups, clubs, sports, and festivals that may seem unconventional. If you want to veer away from the crowd heading to the Saturday darties and go to Southern Decadence instead, feel free to shed the Tulane Uniform and follow your own path.
Cover Photo: Caroline Davis