Op-Ed: Mardi Gras Class System

Trey Guillotine, Entertainment Editor

 Mardi Gras is my favorite holiday. Halloween is a close second, but while All Hallow’s Eve is only one night or weekend, Mardi Gras is practically a month long. What I love most about Mardi Gras is the unique nature of it. Sure, living here most of my life, I’ve seen my fair share of parades, and many aspects stay the same. The beads, the drinking, the floats, the traffic (the traffic!). But for one month out of the year, we get to experience something so authentically New Orleans that I’m reminded about the things I love most about my city. The rest of the year we can hang out with friends at bars, restaurants, movies, and each others’ homes, but for February and March, St. Charles, Canal, and Veterans become the biggest block parties we’ve ever seen. Also king cake. Despite this love for carnival season, there are plenty of things about Mardi Gras I don’t like. I’m not talking about annoying tourists or the traffic (seriously the traffic is terrible). I’m talking about the class system that rears its ugly head at parades, a system I was reminded of at UNO’s 2020 “To Infinity N Beyond” Mardi Gras parade. 

     I was standing near the UC at the end of the small route the parade took around the campus. I got there a few minutes early since I have a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out), and I found the two sets of bleachers that UNO had set out for the administration to come and enjoy the parade. They weren’t large, nor were any administration members or Orientation Leaders rude about the bleachers being reserved, and I overall had a fun experience at the parade as I have before. But there was this constant thought in the back of my mind as I saw the UNO administration members standing just a bit higher than UNO students. 

     These sorts of reservations are nothing new to Mardi Gras parades. Stands are built every year to accommodate “VIPs” so they have a place to sit and watch the parades, as well as get some of the best throws, and on St. Charles and in the French Quarter, gated front yards and balconies offer higher income residents comfort to enjoy the parades. Why should this bother me though? I can still enjoy my parades, so what if rich people can enjoy them more comfortably? It’s their money, they can do what they want with it. However, with that money, they can sometimes influence the parades for their benefit to the misfortune of everyone else. For example, a friend shared with me their story of how a few years ago the Krewe of Rex was paid to change its route for a few blocks in order to pass directly next to someone’s house, giving little to no warning to parade goers who had arrived early to claim their parade territory. What does this have to do with UNO administration and their reserved bleachers? With the current string of car break-ins, building problems such as having no heat or hot water, and issues I feel have been mishandled by UNO’s administration over the past year, it was a disappointing image to see the administration reserving their place to stand above the students. 

     Perhaps I’m blowing this out of proportion. Maybe I’m just in a bad mood. I have no ill will towards my school or it’s administration. But as a student who has been here for both undergrad and graduate school, I feel less and less cared about by my school, and I’ve heard from others who feel worse. I feel like so many within the student body, and even faculty, are seen as less important than others. Mardi Gras is supposed to be a celebration for everyone. UNO is supposed to be for everyone. We’re supposed to be the heartbeat of the Crescent City, but sometimes that heart feels a little broken.