Over Halloween weekend, a friend of a friend reached out to me and asked about my time at the University, since she was considering applying here for graduate school.
Anyone who has read my columns knows I’m not always this school’s most enthusiastic cheerleader. I find plenty of flaws with the way the University handles important issues and treats its student body, but nevertheless, I gave the unsure applicant my honest opinion: I love this school.
I had never heard of her very niche subject of study here at LSU, so I couldn’t speak to the academic quality of the department or the specific temperaments of the professors or students she would encounter, but her other questions I could answer.
Do I enjoy living in Baton Rouge? Is there a lot to do in town? Do I feel safe walking around at night? What’s the campus like? Is the food good?
First and foremost, this University is beautiful. Sure, some of the benches hurt to sit on because of the pebbles, and Lockett Hall is straight-up terrifying, but the live oaks, magnolias and other scenes of greenery more than make up for it.
Nothing beats walking through the Quad early in the morning with a gentle breeze blowing the trees in front of the library, walking home through the Enchanted Forest and admiring all the plaques under the trees or watching the squirrels in front of the Student Union eat full Chick-Fil-A meals.
While Baton Rouge does have a relatively high crime rate, I personally feel safe walking around campus even at night. I try not to go out by myself too late at night because, let’s face it, the world can be a scary place and like most women will probably tell you, college campuses are not known for being overly-safe places for young women -- especially if any amount of alcohol is involved -- overall, however, I do feel safe here.
I know the University has not always been a safe place for women, members of the LGBTQ+ community or people of color, but I truly believe that our community can be a safe place for all people and that we just need to work on actively choosing inclusivity and empathy a little more often.
Honestly, Baton Rouge is an underrated college town. We may not have a huge downtown area or great public transportation, but we do have a wonderful and lively community and amazing food.
In addition, we have a few really great museums – the LSU Art Museum, the Rural Life Museum, the Art and Science Museum, the USS Kidd, the Old State Capitol, etc. – which have free or discounted student admission, a couple of farmers' markets around town and plenty of scenic murals to satisfy anyone’s Instagram content needs.
Any student can tell you Louisiana food is unbeatable – crawfish boils, gumbo, jambalaya, pralines, beignets or even just the basic spices some other states seem to forget about entirely – and even when we’re restricted to take-out or cooking at home, there’s no shortage of inspiration or options down here. From Vegan Friendly Foods to Fat Cow, there’s something just around the corner for everyone.
In pre-COVID-19 times, there was always something to do either on campus or around town, whether it was a concert or a movie night or an athletic event. A lot has changed and will continue to change throughout the pandemic, but the people and the community we’ve fostered at the University would make being a student here completely worth it even if Baton Rouge never returns to its full glory.
Plus, even without any of the museums or the food or the magnificent oak trees, who wouldn’t want to be a Tiger after that amazing 2019 football season, right?
Marie Plunkett is a 21-year-old classical studies senior from New Orleans.