I recently attended Southern University at New Orleans Restoration Ceremony, and I must say I left with mixed emotions. At the core, I am truly happy to see my alma mater making strides to regain some of its luster of old, but in the same breath, I am saddened by what I saw.

Just past the huge tent, set up to shield the mayor, university officials and other dignitaries from the sun, were half-complete buildings, grass in need of mowing and litter — way too much litter.

On my self-appointed tour of the campus that I had once traversed as a student in the late ’90s, I was overwhelmed with a sense that SUNO’s restoration ceremony should have been more appropriately titled “Transition Ceremony” because it’s a title more fitting what I witnessed, and incredibly it is nine years since the storm. Truth is, we’re not really restored at all.

I left the ceremony feeling as if I had been on a campus oppressed and hindered by political gamesmanship, lack of vision, little real leadership and competing ideologies. How on earth is it that our campus is the last university in this city to get its pieces back together? However, before I allowed myself to start blaming the governor, the Southern system, faculty or alumni, I asked myself what could I do to help create change for my beloved alma mater? A school that awarded me a degree that gave me a fighting chance in the real world; a school that challenged me academically and philosophically while I attended during the evenings. A school that I give credit to for making me understand as a student it’s about what SUNO can do for you but as an alumnus it’s now about what I could do for SUNO.

What indeed could I do? I am an alumni donor, I have participated in alumni meetings on campus, but I suppose that isn’t enough. I suppose me and many other alumni who owe SUNO our very livelihoods need to restore our commitment to SUNO. We are a political voice as one; we can impact the politics, mission and outcomes of our dear SUNO as one entity. So that by this time next year, while others are celebrating the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we can celebrate a real Southern University at New Orleans restoration, RENEWAL and REVIVAL!

O Southern, dear Southern, we owe our all to thee. In downfall or victory, we’ll always loyal be. Thy sons and daughters as they work, will be inspired by thee.

Marcel McGee

  • onprofit worker

New Orleans