Letter to the Editor: Response to KA Incident

Dear Dr. Porter and the Tulane Community:

As GENTE, the organization that represents and advocates for Latino students at Tulane University, we would like to make the Tulane community aware of our perspective; the email every Tulane administrator, student and staff member received did not properly convey our message.

To begin, we completely support the right to freedom of speech. We did not infringe on Kappa Alpha Order’s freedom of speech by exercising our own right to freedom of speech, responding to their controversial tradition and the way in which they modified that tradition to intentionally mock the experiences of our people. To be clear, we have never requested for KA to take down the wall or for the fraternity to receive extreme repercussions.

It is unfortunate that the senior administration has not shown an effort to take our perspectives seriously nor has it validated our legitimate concerns. To our knowledge, no member of the senior administration has reached out to GENTE or any of our ally organizations to discuss this issue and show support to our members, who have been seriously affected by KA’s display of “satire.”

By stating our reactions were solely “visceral” in nature, Dr. Porter dismissed our response as being an emotional overreaction. This is a gross misrepresentation of our lived experiences as marginalized students on Tulane’s campus; our strong response to the “KA Incident,” which has now been shared by over 700 Tulanians and counting, is grounded in a wholly reasonable need to respond to the xenophobia propagated by this wall. Tulane has condoned the construction of this wall for years, a wall that has and will always represent a border, whether between the North and the South or Mexico and the United States.

It is in response to the mockery of a border through which many of our constituents’ families have struggled and died trying to cross. It is in response to our frightened members, who were kept from taking pictures of the event. It is in response to the physical manifestation of Trump’s hateful message to all immigrant groups in this country. It is in response to a symbol of separation between KA’s house and the buildings surrounding it, almost all of which were constructed by thousands of underpaid, undocumented immigrants who tirelessly rebuilt this city after Hurricane Katrina. GENTE’s response to the events this weekend has not been visceral; it has been an unbelievably respectful, intellectual and strongly supported start to a movement to change our campus for the better.

We invite the administration and the entire Tulane community to reach out to us and partner with us in this endeavor. Partner with us to raise awareness about these racial incidents; partner with us to communicate how these incidents make us feel as students of color on campus; partner with us to make all students of color at Tulane feel welcome, equal, and accepted; partner with us to educate our community on why such actions are unacceptable at Tulane University. Please understand that GENTE is not concerned with which presidential candidate Tulanians support; we are focused on the messages being conveyed on this campus which negatively impact members of the Tulane community.

Sincerely,

Ana DeSantiago, President of Generating Excellence Now and Tomorrow Through Education (GENTE)

This letter serves as an official representation of the views of GENTE.