“Closed border” policy isolates Tulane from community

The Tulane Student Organization Policy and Handbook Committee recently updated its policy regarding student organizations. A new rule revokes non-Tulane affiliates’ right to current and potential positions as full, decision-making members of Recognized Student Organizations. This policy further alienates Tulane and its affiliates from the fabric of New Orleans. We must do more than simply reside in the city to be part of its community.

Tulane prides itself on its “geographic diversity,” advertising its ranking as “number one in the country” on its website and campus tours. Conversely, just 13 percent of Tulane students hail from Louisiana. The people of New Orleans do not have a choice in welcoming 5,796 students into their state every fall, but all 5,796 of us do have a choice in how we relate to the city.

Both students and administrators must go beyond the traditional “giving back” of community outreach and service. In both policy and action, we must do everything that we can to support the permanent members of the New Orleans community. This is the only way Tulane could even begin to consider itself truly a part of that community. 

We should not only open up our student organizations and programming to non-Tulane affiliates but actively encourage them to join. Beside Tulane being open to the greater community, the Tulane community needs to stand behind the outreach it champions. In the spirit of service learning, we should build a reciprocal relationship by supporting groups already doing work in the city. Students should be ready and willing to do whatever is asked of them in support of these groups and the larger community. This is not always going to be appealing work that warrants an Instagram post. Often groups are in need of vital but unglamorous tasks like carpooling and childcare.

As a major provider of jobs and healthcare in New Orleans, Tulane takes on an important role in the city. In order to fulfill this role substantively, affiliates need to take steps toward deeper involvement in the New Orleans community. Tulane’s policy about student organizations should be open to all in our host city. We should forego emphasis on fulfilling requirements in favor of supporting community organizing and creating lasting connections. Outreach of this kind will show our commitment to the community in a genuine way, building an enduring relationship of trust and mutual respect between the Tulane and New Orleans communities. 

This article is the opinion of The Hullabaloo board.