Staff editorial: This year, let’s foster a community of care

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Staff editorial: This year, let’s foster a community of care

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The Tulane community is aching right now as we endure the unthinkable: saying goodbye to one of our own. This tragedy serves as a stark reminder that we carry a responsibility to look after one another with vigilant attention and loving care. 

Every student walking down McAlister Drive embodies a unique set of joys, anxieties, expectations and experiences. You may not discern it in their gait or facial expression, but the miles each student has traveled up to the present moment profoundly informs who they are.

We must appreciate the individual complexities of our peers and use this knowledge to act accordingly. 

Some students have suffered from anxiety, depression, abuse or grief before they step foot on campus. Others experience abuse at Tulane or receive word that they have lost a loved one while sitting in their dorm room. 

It is our responsibility to understand the warning signs associated with these personal battles and stay alert. Educate yourself on how they manifest, and be ready to intervene if you see your peers struggling.

You may notice your friend start a relationship that seems unhealthy. A friend’s partner may control their actions or publicly belittle them. The invaluable student organization Sexual Aggression Peer Hotline and Education maintains a peer-run hotline which you can call if you are concerned about a peer, are a victim of sexual assault or are seeking advice.

On a different day, you may see your housemate skipping all their classes or having trouble getting out of bed. Maybe they begin eating irregularly. Each student receives 12 free counseling sessions a year and many helpful group options at Tulane Counseling and Psychological Services — you can encourage a friend to take advantage and seek care by calling 504-314-2277 to set up an initial consultation. Additionally, ask your Resident Advisor or club president about hosting an “I CAN HELP” workshop, sponsored by The Well, which gives students in residence halls and organizations the tools they need to help a peer in crisis.

Sometimes the situation calls for immediate medical attention. Tulane Emergency Medical Services, free to students, is trained to respond to any medical emergency, including mental health-related issues. Call Tulane University Police Department’s Uptown number on the back of your Splash Card to get immediate help from TEMS.

Maybe your friend’s drug usage or drinking habits warrant attention. You can encourage them to make an appointment or have a no-commitment-required chat with the Office of Substance Abuse and Recovery, which can be reached at 504-314-2277.

The racism, homophobia, transphobia and discrimination some students face adds an entirely different level to their experience and the way in which they are treated. The Carolynn Barber Pierre Center for Intercultural Life helps students find community while the Community Engagement Advocates facilitate workshops for privileged students about becoming an ally on campus. 

Perhaps most important is the need for self-care. To invert an age-old adage: treat yourself as you would want others to treat you. Take advantage of the campus resources available and seek help as needed. These steps are not always easy, but your intervention on behalf of others or yourself can have a life-changing impact.  

There are myriad services, clubs and resources available beyond those mentioned above. If we utilize them, commit ourselves to education and reach out when our friends are dealing with hardship, we can create a healthy culture of positivity and community.

In his email, President Mike Fitts called the loss of a student a devastating blow to our Tulane family. These words are no mere metaphor. They indicate a profound truth: we at Tulane must look out for our own. 

Hold each other close, always.