Students start campaign to #BringBackTEMS

Canela López, Associate News Editor

It’s not often that a student petition gains over 1,500 signatures in just a matter of days, but it seems that Tulane students have found a new cause to be passionate about.

With flyers and posters, senior Steph Metherall and sophomore Josh Rosenbaum, along with other members of #BringBackTEMS, took to McAlister Drive on Monday, tabling and asking passersby to sign a petition to reinstate Tulane Emergency Medical Services, the student-run ambulance service that was suspended earlier this semester.

TEMS was suspended approximately six weeks ago by Student Affairs after members of the organization allegedly committed conduct violations.

The organization is a 100 percent volunteer ambulance service that provides medical assistance to students on Tulane University and Loyola University New Orleans’ campuses free of charge, including alcohol-related emergencies, physical injuries, victims of sexual assault and students struggling with mental health.

During Fall Break, Metherall and Rosenbaum decided to take action for the general safety of Tulane’s student body. Out of their frustration and sense of urgency, #BringBackTEMS was born.

The campaign consists of a petition addressed to Tulane’s administration, urging them to reinstate TEMS for the safety of the student body and a letter-writing program that allows students to write about their experiences with TEMS and the effects that its absence might be having on them.

The suspension left an absence of free medical emergency services on campus, causing what Rosenbaum and Metherall described as unrest and concern in the general student body. One of the main concerns tied with the suspension is the ability to obtain affordable emergency medical care for low-income students.

“What moved me the most into taking action was stories of students who felt that without TEMS, because of financial constraints, having to call New Orleans EMS, which can cost upwards of $7,000, that it just wouldn’t be financially feasible to get the health care that they needed,” Rosenbaum said.

Many letters posted to the campaign page illustrate the need for a free ambulance service on campus, recalling stories when students who couldn’t afford to call a New Orleans EMS.

Freshman Maria Peterson posted her experience in dealing with a medical emergency without TEMS to the #BringBackTEMS Facebook page.

“I am in the emergency room with my friend right now, we were forced to take an Uber to the Tulane hospital after we realized there was no other option and we could not afford the cost of an ambulance,” Peterson said.

Other students who wrote letters, like junior Sarah Levinson, share similar stories of financial distress when having to find new alternatives to TEMS.

“Please #BringBackTEMS for students like myself who cannot handle the financial burden of a costly ambulance service such as Acadian or NOLA EMS,” Levinson said. “I have been lucky enough never to have needed to use TEMS, but given a serious emergency, I would deny ambulance service as a lower-income student who absolutely cannot afford the associated fees.”

The petition has garnered much support, totaling at about 1,500 signatures and 300 letters as of Wednesday. Tulane undergraduate students aren’t the sole supporters of the campaign, however, and #BringBackTEMS is rapidly expanding its reach. Tulane parents, graduate students, medical school students and even Loyola students have signed the petition and written letters in support of the reinstatement of TEMS.

“The petition says ‘Undergraduate Student Body,’ and it has really grown to be so much more than that which is really exciting,” Metherall said.

In an effort to quell concerns and answer questions regarding security on campus, Tulane University Police Department in cooperation with Undergraduate Student Government held a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Joseph Merrick Jones Hall. At the meeting, the topic of TEMS was briefly touched upon by Vice President of Student Affairs J. Davidson “Dusty” Porter.

“[We’re] all incredibly invested in bringing TEMS back,” Porter said. “We want TEMS to be here and we want TEMS to be part of Tulane. At the same time, we need to make sure that when TEMS does come back that we are making sure that it’s gonna be successful.”

Student Affairs is currently working with TEMS and TEMS alumni to try and reinstate the program. When TEMS would be reinstated was not mentioned by Porter, which is something that #BringBackTEMS wishes to amend.

Rosenbaum said that the response given reflects one of the key issues that #BringBackTEMS tries to tackle: a lack of transparency in terms of when TEMS will be reinstated.

Metherall said that though the answer is not what students had hoped to hear, it still showed the university’s willingness to try and hear the concerns of students.

“It’s hard to say I’m mad at you when we all want the same thing, and I can’t say that I’m feeling aggressive towards administration at all, but it’s really just a general issue of we really need a fix and we need it fast,” Metherall said.

Metherall and Rosenbaum will both be meeting with members of Student Affairs to try and reach a more tangible solution to the reinstatement of TEMS, as well as tabling for the rest of the week to try and gain support.

Overall, Rosenbaum stresses the movement’s focus on the dire nature of lacking TEMS and how that impacts the student body in an increasingly detrimental way.

“I would just stress the urgency of this, that we understand that the administration was saying was that they all want TEMS back as well, but we want TEMS back now or as soon as possible because every day that TEMS isn’t here, from what we here in the letters, is a day that people don’t feel safe,” Rosenbaum said.

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