Students, faculty and staff are talking about being back at the “New Dillard” for the first time since the hurricane after holding classes at Hilton Hotel for six months. Dr. Freddye Hill, vice president of Campus Life believes that we need to be back on campus to reclaim our space and embark on creating a “New Dillard.” The transformation of a new Dillard will allow us to look above and beyond the past and traditions and focus on new ideas that suggest every student is engaged in the involvement of activities. Part of the new Dillard plan is to evaluate, assess and change and offer different opportunities to our students. “It is definitely good to be home and seize the opportunities,” said Hill. “I can say that I will miss the staff at the hotel that endeared and valued what we do, which is educating young black students.”
To be back on campus is refreshing and a feeling of accomplishment according to Dianna Holiday Woods, administrative assistant of Student Support Services and Upward Bound. Woods said that the decision to be back on campus was a wise one because you have start somewhere. Staying at the Hilton would take even longer to get the University back together. We need the students here in the rebuilding process, it is a sign of progress, said Woods. “By being back on campus, I would like to see a more collegiate campus and to also see students excel more.” It is nice to see the students walking and laughing around the campus. “When they’re happy, I’m happy,” Woods said.
Carl Henderson, a senior mass communication major was very excited about being back at Dillard. “It’s good being back to see the trees and green grass, but at the same time it is bitter-sweet,” said Henderson. There is no where for off campus students to hang in between classes, whereas at the Hilton we could relax in the lobby. Being at the Hilton was a lot smoother in terms of knowing where our classes were held, unlike now our classes are supposed to be in one building and to get there and find out that it has moved or that they are not even offering the class anymore is upsetting Henderson added.
Another disappointment of Henderson is that the gym is not open and if it is not open in time for basketball season, the games will be at St. Augustine high school instead in our very own gym. When we were at the Hilton it was easy access, kind of like being on campus, but now we have to drive off campus according to Henderson. The excitement has definitely changed for Henderson, after class he cannot wait to get home. ”Before classes really started it was great to see everyone, but now it is too hot to sit outside and relax and not to mention where we go when it rains,” said Henderson.
Henderson said that being back on campus is not that bad in terms of the food, which is one thing that will not be missed at the Hilton along with the housekeepers knocking early in the morning and coming right in to service his room. ”Although the Hilton was in the heart of everything, the food outlets in Gentilly are open later so that is convenient,” Henderson said.
”While I knew that the campus would not totally be back, I did expect for some of the buildings to be up and running, such as Kearny and to have some activities for the first week of classes on Kabacoff,” added Hawkins, a psychology major. “If I had to choose between campus and the Hilton, it would be campus.” Although Dillard does not have the best parking, it beats getting tickets everyday and also hearing the discussion of the classes next to you, said Hawkins.
While there are still changes being made for “New Dillard,” the important part is to be back home to utilize the opportunities that the “New Dillard” will have to offer in the years to come.