Outreach Tulane activities stray far from service

Jack Newell, Staff Reporter

The following is an opinion article and opinion articles do not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

Tulane University needs to more closely monitor the selection of Outreach Tulane projects performed by students. This fact was made painfully apparent when an Outreach group was asked to take part in a protest in the Upper Ninth Ward.

Most students who participate in Outreach can expect to paint houses, clean up streets or perform other tasks that will benefit the local community. This group was sent to protest that some New Orleans citizens still had not received their Federal Emergency Management Agency allowances, a cause of which they had little understanding. Forcing Tulane students to participate in political activities and crediting them as “service” is a serious oversight by Outreach Tulane.

Students reported that they and others were asked to march down the street repeating chants such as, “they took our lives, they took our homes; what’s right is right, what’s wrong is wrong.” The Outreach group of 55 Tulane students marched next to about a dozen members of the local community. Several students, asked not to be named, who participated in the march said they felt extremely uncomfortable and were met with stares from people in the neighborhood as they chanted. 

Tulane’s decision to include this activity is unacceptable. Subjecting students to an activity like this not only puts them in an undesirable situation, but also may cause them to question the university’s motives, which can have an especially negative effect on freshmen just getting acclimated to Tulane and New Orleans. 

This move can also hurt Tulane’s relationship with the city and the local community. Building this relationship is exactly what Outreach Tulane and other service opportunities within the school are meant to do. This “service” site did nothing to help the local community, and may even have offended its members. Asking Tulane students to protest an issue they have little knowledge of and no correlation alienates the residents of New Orleans.

This problem has a simple solution. Tulane must be more careful when it plans Outreach Tulane activities. Anything that could be offensive or controversial should be cut from the program. Service should be strictly limited to actions that undisputedly lift up one group while causing no problems for another. Tulane must avoid alienating students, the local community and the New Orleans community as a whole. 

Jack Newell is a sophomore in the Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached for comment at [email protected]