Shared Linux Server, No Root Access, Blender won't launch from Command Line

I’ve received access to a college’s multi-core computing cluster.
I’m excited to run Blender on the cluster, but I’m struggling to get it to launch.

Their system uses RedHat Enterprise Linux 5 (64-bit)
uname -a shows that it is in fact using 64 bit architecture.
… x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

Great!
So my first attempt was simply to launch blender from the command line
./blender --help

but this resulted in the following error:
./blender: error while loading shared libraries: libSDL-1.2.so.0: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

so then I downloaded the SDL-1.2.15 source files to my home folder and tried:
./configure
make
make install

at this point I discovered that I don’t have access privileges to install SDL directly, so…

./configure --prefix my_home_folder/sdl
make
make install

…this seemed to install just fine, so…

./blender --help

but this resulted in the same error as before:
./blender: error while loading shared libraries: libSDL-1.2.so.0: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

A little more research resulted in:

/lib/ld-linux.so.2 --library-path /path/to/my_home_folder/sdl/lib/ ./blender --help

Apparently the initial commands direct blender toward my custom directory, and as far as I can tell, it works, but…

./blender: error while loading shared libraries: ./blender: wrong ELF class: ELFCLASS64

From what I can learn, this means that something is 32bits and something else is 64bits. I’m stuck here because none of the options seem to resolve the issue.

I’ve tried both the 32bit and the 64bit linux versions of blender. They are side by side in my home folder, but both give the exact same error.

Perhaps SDL is somehow 32bit trying to run on a 64bit system, but this doesn’t make logical sense since I compiled SDL from source on this same 64bit system. I searched for flags/options to set while compiling SDL to ensure the correct architecture, but came up empty. I’ve searched for ELFCLASS64, but cannot find any useful information about it.

Does anyone have any experience with installing Blender’s dependent libraries onto a linux system without root access?

Any help would be much appreciated.
Thank you!
Daniel