USG presidential candidate forum: Frederick Bell

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Editor’s Note: The following questions were posed by the PVC, a group of progressive student organization leaders that hold a forum and endorse USG Executive Board candidates. The organization was formerly known as The Progressive Voter Coalition and was deferred for a name change due to a USG bylaw that states coalitions whose name or mission statement includes political language will not be recognized. The coalition now is known as the PVC.

1. What actions plans do you have to create a more inclusive, engaged, and sustainable student government? (Students Organizing Against Racism)

I’m running for USG president to make Tulane home. Student government needs to be smarter, safer and more substantial. I will work to create an environment where every student feels welcomed and at home, regardless of their background. That includes listening to all students’ concerns, elevating their voices, and providing a platform that allows them to feel the direct impacts student government can have. Visit frederickbell.org to learn how I’ve done this in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

2. What resources need to be expanded to improve the lives of students of color at Tulane in order to make this campus safe and welcoming for all students? What can be done to improve relationships between TUPD and people of color? Slightly longer answer acceptable. (Intersections – 2018; Finding Intersectionality Together)

As a student of color, I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to bring my unique perspective to the office of USG President. The O, MCC and GSAC organizations do incredible work, and I will support them with empathy for the struggles I know students of color face every day. In addition, the Center for Academic Equity should also be highlighted more for its efforts.

3. Some students feel that there is an unequal distribution of labor put onto marginalized students to address their own issues. If elected, how do you plan to address this precedent of tokenization? What have you done to reduce the tokenization of students of color on your campaign, and what will you do to reduce the tokenization of students of color in senate? (Finding Intersectionality Together; Amnesty International)

(1) As an oft-receiver of tokenization, I believe it’s important to call it out and vehemently reject it when and wherever it occurs. There are well-deserving and qualified minorities who can exist for more than serving some quota. (2) We have not had to worry about that in my campaign. Our team is a diverse group of students committed to making Tulane home for every student, no matter their race. I plan on approaching the Senate with this same attitude.

4. Have you attended an Undoing Racism workshop in the past – if yes, when? How did it change the way you act as a leader on campus? If you have not attended, will you commit to attending the Spring 2019 workshop? (Students Organizing Against Racism – 2018; Finding Intersectionality Together)

No, but as a Black man growing up in the south, I would love to know how to “undo racism.” I’ve been trying to undo that almost my entire life. That being said, I plan to attend the Spring 2019 workshop.

5. Do you support the USG initiative to remove the racist namesake of F. Edward Hebert? Do you support a push for Tulane to recognize legacies of oppression and to reclaim its racist history? What would this process look like to you? (Intersections – 2018)

Yes. As a senator at LSU, I helped lead a similar effort to remove the many confederate symbols that exists on campus. You can learn more that here. Yes, I support that push. It looks similar to the fight at LSU. We bring in all key stakeholders into one room, and then discuss what the best way to move forward is after all perspectives have been considered.

6. How do you feel about the current dialogue on campus regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Should any steps be taken to make this dialogue more inclusive? If so, what specific measures can you commit to enacting while in office? (Finding Intersectionality Together)

The dialogue should be more inclusive for the tough conversations that have to be had. I attended an AIPAC-sponsored event back in January where I learned people on either side of the issue aren’t a monolith. I pressed representatives from the organization on issues ranging from settlements to the BDS movement. They were open and receptive. Specifically, I plan on approaching the topic with that same attitude in all subsequent conversations on the matter.

7. Did you attend Shifting the Paradigm this year? What do you think are the most crucial steps to reducing sexual violence on Tulane’s campus? What do you think are the shortcomings of the post-climate survey initiatives? Please evaluate the effectiveness of Tulane administration’s campaigns around sexual violence. (Progressive Voter Coalition)

No. Unfortunately, I had to work. But I was happy to receive a recap from several friends who could attend. I plan to confront sexual assault be investing in smart technologies. 

8. What additional mental health services do we need on campus to supplement CAPS? What needs to change about the mental health culture on campus? (National Alliance on Mental Illness – 2017)

(1) We need additional counselors and retraining for them as well. (2) Students who aren’t suicidal may still need mental health services. They shouldn’t be quickly pushed through a CAPs appointment or brushed aside because of this. (3) It needs to be destigmatized, which could also help some students recognize the resources available to them and be willing to access them.

9. How do you plan to support the expansion of reproductive health resources for students on and off campus? (College Democrats)

Yes.

10. Do you feel that Tulane is accessible for students with disabilities? If not, what will you do to make our campus more accessible? (College Democrats)

Perhaps, but as a student without disabilities, I cannot entirely speak to what their experience is truly like. I look forward to discussions on how to make campus more accessible for students with disabilities.

11. Do you have any plans to make Tulane’s campus more environmentally-friendly? If so, what are they? (College Democrats; Amnesty International)

Yes. I have advocated for USG to go paperless and now we have. We need more refillable water bottles stations on campus and bicycle paths to encourage students to bike. I’d also like to work with my friends in city government to learn how we can effectively begin recycling glass. We also need to better educate students on what’s actually recyclable. This could go a long way in reducing Tulane’s environmental impact.

12. What role do you see Tulane playing in combating climate change, especially given our ties to the oil and gas industry? How would you influence administration to take a more proactive role? (College Democrats)

One of my signature proposals is advocating for a voting seat on the Tulane Board of Trustees. Currently, the USG president has a non-voting seat and I will fight for that expanded power to address issues such as Tulane’s approach to climate change. I’ve worked with student body presidents all over the country, and they’ve told me how the ability to vote on their boards has had tremendous benefits for their respective student bodies. Let’s get it done.

13. There have been many complaints about the problematic nature of student engagement in local New Orleans communities through service learning programs. What are some ideas of yours to improve service learning programs, and how do you intend to improve city-student relations more generally? (Finding Intersectionality Together)

As a lifelong resident of Louisiana, I can tell you people don’t care how much know, until they know how much you care. So, let’s dial back the aimless service pursuits of the well-intentioned Tulane student, and be more intentional about identifying a need and connecting students best fit to serve those needs in the community. I’m committed to working with my friends on the city council to understand how to best achieve this.

14. Do you support the USG-backed campus initiative to include All-Gender Restrooms in all buildings on campus? If so, how would you use your position to advocate for this? (Gender and Sexuality Affairs Council)

Yes. I will emphasize the importance of this to many of our students. I’m running to make Tulane home. Every student should feel safe, comfortable and understood in their own home.

15. Have you been to a Trans 101 or LGBT 101 training? What interactions with the LGBTQ+ community and LGBTQ+ activism have you had at Tulane? (Gender Exploration Society; Gender and Sexuality Affairs Council)

No, but I’ll attend the next one available. And as an RA, it’s my responsibility to provide a safe space for any LBTQ+ person who may need it. I’m prepared to do just that.

16. How would you implement more inclusive spaces for trans individuals at Tulane, including gender-inclusive housing

I’m currently in discussions with HLR on how to best address the current housing crisis facing transfer students. This conversation can be expanded to include trans individuals. As new buildings are being constructed, I plan to advocate on behalf of my fellow students, no matter their gender identity.

17. What role do you see USG playing in increasing voter turnout among students in federal, state, and local elections? Will you commit to funding voter registration initiates such as TurboVote through USG’s budget? (College Democrats)

Our role is simple: fund TurboVote and other projects like it. As a senator at LSU, I authored the legislation that brought TurboVote to campus, which set it up to now have its very own polling location. Tulane can have similar success with the right, experienced leader at the helm.

18. What initiatives or changes not addressed in the previous questions will you advocate for to better serve our changing student body, especially the increasing numbers of students of color, queer students, and trans students? (Progressive Voter Coalition)

On a very broad level, I think all students will benefit from our campaign’s push for an Uber/Lyft partnership, which will offer free rides to students. I know students will appreciate priority class registration being expanded, sexual assault being confronted by investing in smart technologies, action demanded on moldy buildings and a fight for a voting seat on the Tulane Board of Trustees. And again, as I minority student, I hope to approach the concerns of other minority students with a unique level of empathy to provide them with the best possible outcomes. You can learn more about how I will achieve this by visiting frederickbell.org.