Tulane response to Kappa Alpha insufficient

Chen Yu, Contributing Writer

This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

This year, in line with annual tradition, members of Kappa Alpha Order built a sandbag wall outside of their fraternity house on Audubon Street. The wall came with labels that said “Trump” and “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.” These labels refer to the platform of presidential candidate Donald Trump, who both generalizes and actively stands against all Muslim and Latino immigrants. The labels, despite claims from the fraternity that they were satirical, imply racism and xenophobia and made students of color at Tulane feel uncomfortable and threatened. Administrators at Tulane should openly decry such public expression of racist sentiment. It reflects poorly on Tulane and indifference is not acceptable.

For socially privileged students, these labels may only be a joke that makes fun of Donald Trump and his platform — but it is the impact rather that the intent that actually influences people’s lives. If one is Latino or Muslim, how might they feel about a presidential candidate that wants to deport all Muslims and build a border to keep out the Mexican immigrants? How would they feel when one sees these labels that imply support for the racist and xenophobic platform steps away from Tulane’s campus? Racism and xenophobia are not anything to joke about when these labels are making students of color feel threatened. That’s what matters.

Some people may argue that students of color should be mad at Trump’s election platform instead of the slogans outside of Kappa Alpha’s house. This is not exactly true. Of course, many have every right to be mad at Trump’s racist and xenophobic platform. The members of Kappa Alpha, however, are students at Tulane. When they overtly support Trump’s platform outside of the context of political student organizing, the labels convey the message that the Kappa Alpha fraternity supports Trump’s platform. Their support is no less threatening to students of color than Trump’s platform itself.

At Tulane, an institution of higher education, where students from diverse backgrounds engage in intellectual interactions, every single student has every single right to feel comfortable, safe and welcomed. Tulane University should have firm values on the issue: it should stand against racism and xenophobia and provide a safe and inclusive place for intellectual and personal growth. The lukewarm response from the Division of Student Affairs implies a dismissal of the situation, sweeping it under the rug.

Despite the fact that Tulane cannot do anything to punish the fraternity for labels on private property that imply racist content, the administrators can show their disapproval against the labels. Freedom of speech does not make this organization right in what they have done. By showing public disapproval, the administration would be offering their support and making efforts to creating a safer and more inclusive Tulane. Without this, an underlying atmosphere of racism and xenophobia will remain.

Chen is a freshman at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected]