Office of Student Programs policy inhibits student initiatives

Amy Schully, Staff Writer Josh Rosenbaum

Editors Note: This article was co-written by Amy Schully, the Coordinator of Amnesty International at Tulane, and Josh Rosenbaum, the President of J Street U Tulane.

The following is an opinion piece, and does not reflect the views of the Tulane Hullabaloo

 

Amnesty International Tulane and J Street U Tulane joined together last week in an attempt to host a talk by Palestinian non-violent activist Ali Abu Awwad. On a campus in which discourse surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is so polarized, Awwad, who believes in the intrinsic link between the futures of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, would have brought a unique voice to the conversation.

Despite the fact that both organizations had the necessary funding, a reserved location, confirmation from the speaker and security clearance from TUPD, the Office of Student Programs denied their request for the event.  

The Office of Student Programs maintains a policy that requires an event must be registered on OrgSync a minimum of three weeks in advance. The two organizations appealed the decision, but the Office of Student Programs maintained the three-week OrgSync registration deadline, even though the organizations did not receive adequate funding and confirmation from the speaker until two weeks before the event was scheduled.

When J Street U Tulane was in the process of starting up as a new student organization at the beginning of the fall semester of 2014, neither the Undergraduate Student Government nor the Office of Student Affairs provided the organization with instructions or steps for programming, OrgSync or accessing campus resources. When J Street U Tulane and Amnesty International Tulane planned to co-host an event, however, the office involved itself. It did not help to make a positive impact, but rather it blocked a program with an exception-free rule. This three-week registration deadline should not apply in all cases for programming.

The three-week deadline imposed on student organizations is ineffective and arbitrary because often students must wait to hear back from other departments about funding before they can register the event on OrgSync. The Office of Student Programs should take a more individualistic approach when working with student organizations that are trying to make positive social change. 

By creating barriers for student organizations that seek positive change, the Office of Student Programs discourages students who undertake that already difficult task. If Tulane genuinely cared about students who seek social change, they would reach out to new organizations, like J Street U, and established organizations, like Amnesty International, to offer guidance and resources in order to advance and facilitate their initiatives. Increased use of technological services, such as OrgSync, should work to streamline the process of programming, not slow things down or cut them off entirely.

The Office of Student Programs should not blindly adhere to bureaucratic policies that do not serve the interests of the student body. This is a call to action, one that stems from our experiences with programming, one that serves all student organizations and students who seek change. The Division of Student Affairs should work with students, not against them, in doing whatever it can to make sure that interesting student-led events can become a reality.

Amy Schully is a senior at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at [email protected] 

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