Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

Students push for redefinition of safety on campus

April 27, 2017

Adelaide Basco | Art Director

In 2016 there were “2,439 complaints that had to do with issues of race” within educational institutions according to the U.S. Department of Education

In light of this statistic and the current political climate, some students are asking for the definition of safety to include issues involving race and sexuality.

The past definition of student safety used by Undergraduate Student Government focused on the relationship between Tulane University Police Department and students, emergency services and the mass notification system, according to USG President Sam Levin.

Within this definition, some students feel as though their safety needs are ignored.

“As a student of color, I feel like my safety needs have been constantly ignored,” freshman Semhal Abbady said. “… I don’t think someone is qualified for this position if they don’t value how I feel and my opinions as a student of color.”

The role of the Student Safety Committee involves “fostering communication between students and TUPD, Tulane Emergency Preparedness, Facilities Services, Transportation Services and Student Affairs in order to develop a safer campus that empowers every student,” according to the USG website.

The director of student safety mainly serves as a liaison between USG and TUPD, but some students want the position to be responsible for communicating issues and incidents that may make students feel unsafe as well.

“There was a move to get more TUPD on campus,” senior Katalina Euraque said. “There was completely a lack of conversation on the fact that for a significant amount of population … that didn’t feel more safe.”

Concerns were raised at the senate meeting about sophomore Abigail Michel, USG cabinet nominee for director of student safety, and her ability to make all students feel safe. Michel’s nomination was not approved by the senate on Tuesday.

The concerns focused on previous Facebook posts made regarding student protests and the value of safe spaces on campus.

“She referred to students of color fighting for their rights post-election as toddlers … yelling, marching around and demanding resources [in a Facebook post],” Senator Josh Rosenbaum said.

Michel addressed the dialogue surrounding the concern and stated that she would separate her political beliefs from her actions in the position.

“I realize the Facebook post was inflammatory, and that is not the type of leader I intend to be,” Michel said.

Levin said the competitive interview process chose from four candidates and included representatives from TUPD and the assistant vice president of emergency preparedness. Moving forward, Levin said he plans on rethinking the position to be more inclusive of all communities.

“I will be making sure that they look for new aspects to make sure that it is more inclusive for marginalized students while also incorporating the senators and students who voiced their opinions,” Levin said.

Tulane Black Student Union President Will Smith said he believes that USG does not always consider the needs of students of color when making safety decisions for the entire student body.

“[USG] seems to focus on the student body as a whole, but it doesn’t really consider people of color as part of the whole,” Smith said.

Given the concerns of various students and senators, Vice President for Student Life Khristyan Trejo said the executive board is rethinking how USG defines student safety.

“[USG is] challenging the way that we are thinking about student safety, moving away from just doing a relationship with TUPD, into different ways in which we can outreach to different communities.” 

8 Comments

8 Responses to “Students push for redefinition of safety on campus”

  1. Lauren on April 27th, 2017 4:28 pm

    Basically, USG was being racist because the nominee wasn’t a person of color, and therefore is not qualified. That doesn’t make any sense. USG is now using the color of a persons skin to define their qualifications. Sounds like a step in the wrong direction. USG lost all my respect with this one. You can’t demand that all students be treated equally if you discriminate against specific skin types. It doesn’t mater what her political party association is. She is managing in Security Prepardness. She has experience. It sounds like she was perfectly qualified, except for her skin tone.

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    S Reply:

    All but one of the members of the executive board is White, the majority of senators, council chairs, and cabinet appointees are as well. No one ever demanded that she not be white, simply that she respect that students who aren’t may have different experiences.

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    Josh Reply:

    You don’t need to be a person of color to care about people of color. This wasn’t about the race of the applicant; it was about her values.

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  2. Lauren on April 27th, 2017 4:28 pm

    *majoring

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  3. Ashamed Tulane Alum on April 27th, 2017 4:51 pm

    USG is run by the biggest SJWs at Tulane who have no problem running the school into the ground.

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  4. Alumni Joe on April 27th, 2017 9:18 pm

    What is this horseshit? Where’s any evidence that students of color’s safety is not being taken into account? There is none. No one is getting a special invitation, no one is getting special treatment. Why do you think you are entitled to this because of the color of your skin? What would that even mean for Tulane to exclude people of color from considerations of safety? You really think TUPD is an inherently racist organization, and that more TUPD will make you less safe? The national narrative (which of course has widespread evidence of police discrimination and brutality towards people of color) doesn’t necessarily apply to the small community that is TUPD. Get over yourselves.

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    Student at Tulane Reply:

    Good points. In addition (based off of my observations over the last 4 years) the majority of TUPD officers are of color. So I would expect these students to encourage more officers, not fewer (unless a minority becomes evil once they become a police officer).

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  5. David Naccari on May 14th, 2017 7:01 pm

    There is a big difference between equality and diversity. Equality is what Martin Luther King, Jr. fought and died for. Diversity is “I deserve a seat at the table whether I’ve earned it or not.” The first is a core American value. The second is concealed form of racial discrimination and a sell out of the American values of hard work, self-reliance, and initiative.

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