July 13 News Update

Gabby Abrams, News Editor

Due to the frequency of updates related to the COVID-19 pandemic and Tulane’s reopening plans, The Hullabaloo is creating a separate page on our website for these updates.

Tulane files amicus brief in support of Harvard, MIT lawsuit against ICE 

JULY 14 UPDATE: The Trump administration rescinded its policy that would keep international students taking entirely online classes from remaining on campus in the fall. The government reverted back to their March decision to allow students taking online course loads to remain in the U.S. This resolves the lawsuit filed by Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Tulane University has joined 58 other universities across the country in filing an amicus brief for the lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security. The suit seeks to prohibit the government from nullifying international students’ visas at universities where their classes will be entirely online, a plan announced by ICE on July 6.

“We want to assure our international students that, whether they study remotely or in person, we are committed to them and to their education,” Tulane President Mike Fitts said. “They will always have a home at Tulane. The expertise, insights, perspectives and experiences of international students are critical to the mission of a major research university such as Tulane.”

Fitts recognizes that although Tulane international students will remain eligible for a F-1 visa as the university plans to return to in-person and remote classes in the fall, many other international students at various universities will not have that privilege.

The amicus brief states that the directive by ICE violates the Administrative Procedure Act. The act was enacted in 1946 and dictates the ways in which agencies of the federal government may establish regulations. The collection of universities argue that the Trump administration gave no justification for this ruling or the burdens that it will place on universities and students.

The universities request that international students with valid visas be allowed to continue their studies in the U.S. despite their classes being moved online.

Dean Skinner updates students about “tech-enhanced” classes for fall semester

Dean of Newcomb-Tulane College Lee Skinner announced a new descriptor for fall semester classes in Monday’s email to the Tulane community tech enhanced. All courses, other than those that are completely online, are described in the schedule of classes portal as either “lecture/tech enhanced,” “seminar/tech enhanced,” or “tutorial/tech enhanced.” This description means that students will be able to socially distance in the classroom as well as continue to learn in their classes remotely in case of illness.

Skinner also updated parents and students of current campus preparations. She wrote that there are currently 13 temporary classrooms being assembled to allow for social distancing. Additionally, the IT department is working to install new audio and visual features in classrooms to promote student engagement.

One of Tulane’s temporary classrooms under construction near Monroe Residence Hall. (Sally Asher, Contributing Photographer)

Skinner concluded her email by saying that “Most students will have significant in-person classroom time, discussions with fellow students and instructors, and other in-person learning in their classes. We plan to deliver an in person residential education this fall.”

Tulane covers student health fee for graduate students on stipends 

Robin Forman, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, detailed in her Monday email changes to student health fees for certain graduate students.

Forman wrote that “Beginning fall 2020, the Tulane schools will cover the costs of the Campus Health Fee for graduate students who receive stipends.”

Stipends are payments for graduate training that differ from hourly wages for work. They include resident assistant- and teaching assistant-ships.

Eliminating the fee ensures that these students will have access to campus health whether they use the Tulane-sponsored Student Health Insurance Plan or a different approved insurance carrier.

The fee will continue to be optional for graduate students not on a stipend. A letter to the editor earlier this spring, written by Solidarity Tulane, a graduate student advocacy group, included demands for fully funded health insurance for all graduate workers.

Forman encourages graduate students to contact their specific school for assistance regarding this topic.