Editorial: Mardi Gras is over, but our problems remain

Seán Brennan

After the much needed weeklong break that Loyola students enjoy for Mardi Gras, a lethargic start getting back into classes is almost inevitable.

Following the days of non-stop walking, screaming and bead-catching during, arguably, the most joyful time of the year, it’s easy for the “Ash Wednesday Blues” to stick around as papers, assignments and mid-terms pile up.

If left unattended, this pile can send even the most attentive student into a rut, one that returning students, especially seniors, know how difficult it is to get out of.

Weeks can go by playing catch up as grades suffer and tunnel vision grows, while the allure of weekend festivities — springtime festivals for every reason imaginable — makes it even more difficult just to get leveled.

That’s why it’s incredibly important for Loyola students, especially those experiencing their first Mardi Gras, to be aware of this phenomenon, understand that it is reoccurring and learn how to stay positive, proactive and engaged.

Getting out of this post-Mardi Gras funk is necessary for students’ GPAs, but it is also necessary on a much larger scale. For the sake of the nation, students have to stay engaged both in school and in the democratic process.

Countless Loyola students exhibited their patriotism following the election of President Donald Trump, exercising their First Amendment rights and staying watchful of an unprecedented administration that seems only to operate through communication breakdowns.

From participating in the international Women’s March and protests against the president’s first Muslim ban, to engaging in the news, staying up-to-date and debating, Loyola students have shown both their passion in an unpredictable time and commitment to the civic process.

This is never an easy task. Nine times out of 10, it is easier to turn a blind eye, to say “whatever,” to go to the bar on a Saturday instead of a rally.

And as college students in New Orleans — already committed to classes, internships, jobs, clubs, sports and more in one of the most active cities in the world — the decision to stay politically engaged does not become any easier.

Add the after-Mardi Gras blues to this equation, continually playing catch up, and there’s a dangerous product. Students can be forced to keep their head down as the current administration and Congress shape the country that their generation will soon be responsible for.

Since the Mardi Gras break, the current administration has reintroduced another dangerous Muslim ban, accused the Obama administration of illegally wiretapping Trump Tower and continued plans for the hazardous Keystone XL oil pipeline without using U.S. steel despite the president’s promise, just to name a few.

Peaceful demonstration, political engagement and criticism of the government are all parts of a fundamental civic duty that was designed to be the fuel for the U.S. to function. As this administration continues its business as usual, all of these actions need to be taken.

Students in college are in the perfect position to exercise their civic duty, as they pursue the tools and knowledge to become the best and brightest in their fields. But going to class, learning and passing comes first, and New Orleans in the spring can be a difficult place for that to happen.

Regardless of major, maintaining political and social awareness helps significantly in class. In-depth research, asking pertinent questions and strong debate are the same skills needed for an active citizen and for most assignments in college. If possible, aligning paper topics with current events helps two-fold, as well.

Loyola also has dozens of resources for class, the result of students’ tuition hard at work. Tutors and success coaches available at the Student Success Center, a full-time library staff for research and advisors for support are just some of the tools that students pay for when they enroll.

Students need to keep researching, keep asking questions and keep letting their voice be heard. They cannot immediately dismiss the findings of WikiLeaks, for example, just because certain sources discredit them, but also cannot immediately take them as fact just because they reaffirm their beliefs.

If the brain acts like a muscle, students need to exercise for improvement but also rest to stay sane.

Mardi Gras is one of the most unique holidays to experience in college and one of the best mental reliefs there is.

But now the holiday is over and students cannot allow themselves to sleep until the next parade. As the generation who will inherit whatever happens now, we have to keep our heads up and strive to be the best students and citizens we can be.