Catching up with the Center for Academic Equity

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Adjusting to life in college is often very challenging. Some students often feel the pressures of learning good study habits, being far from their homes and families and trying to make new friends. This process tends to be even harder on certain members of the Tulane community. Dealing with issues specific to identities that are not adequately represented in the community make adjusting to and successfully completing college much harder. That’s where The Center for Academic Equity comes in.

“The Center’s goal is to ensure that every tulane student has access to the amazing resources that tulane has to offer to  support primarily students of color, LGBTQ students, DACA and undocumented students as well as first-generation college students and to provide them with the kinds of opportunities and programs that would allow them to flourish and thrive academically,” Paula Booke said.

Since its inception in spring 2017, The Center has participated in a number of initiatives to create a more equitable experience for students. These projects include cohorts of Posse and College Track students and Equity Thursdays.

“We also had the largest Posse retreat ever and that was an amazing conversation focused on hope, hate and race in the united states,” Booke said. “What I thought was really great about that is that it turned into not only a campus-wide conversation that extended throughout the spring semester, but it also created a grant that is open to undergraduates working in partnership with individuals all across the university that is meant to create a positive investment in creating a more equitable society.”

The Center also has plans to expand their lending library program, which offers textbooks to students who may not be able to afford them, and host their second annual Idea Symposium on Nov. 13, giving more students studying in an array of fields the opportunity to showcase their research for their peers, professors and other members of the community.

One student, sophomore Kennon Stewart, began his collegiate career with The Center at their Newcomb-Tulane College Summer Experience, where underprivileged, first-year students were given the opportunity to receive credit before school began.  

“I would’ve absolutely dropped out of Tulane if it weren’t for the Center,” said Stewart. “My first three weeks of college were so confusing, and I couldn’t even talk to my parents about it because I’m a first-generation college student. At one point, I was missing my city and family so much that I almost bought a one-way plane ticket back home.”

Instead of leaving Tulane, Stewart was able to find the support he needed to not only survive college, but get involved in the Tulane community and call this place his home.

“We want more students to have access to academically distinctive opportunities,” said Booke. “We want to support more students in advancing career goals and preparing for graduate education. We want to support students in really re-thinking and shaping the communities in which they live in really robust ways, so we’re looking forward to that in a number of different ways.”