OPINION | Students’ apathy towards New Orleans is glaring

apathy

Lauryn Aviles | Staff Artist

Tulane students have no issue with using New Orleans as a disposable playground.

Deeya Patel, Views Editor

At an institution where nearly 70% of the students come from the 20% richest families in America, it is easy to imagine that many Tulane students are out of touch with the majority of the world’s struggles. The Tulane bubble and the people contained inside of it were quite literally born to never have to experience true discomfort, their own or secondhand. But now, this ignorance and apathy is voluntary, and is becoming increasingly harmful to the New Orleans community. 

Of course, students may witness struggle when they participate in voluntourism, or they might gain momentary insight into deep-seated cultural issues while swiping through an infographic on their friend’s Instagram story. They may even be enlightened during a sociology class, offering up a brilliant point in response to be met with nods of agreement from their classmates.

But in reality, these struggles are far from a priority to the student body. The case in point is happening right before the New Orlean’s community’s eyes, as thousands of students flocked back to campus for the school year. The reasons for returning to in-person instruction are not the issue. Many students simply missed their friends, wanted to have some semblance of structure, or were escaping an unsuitable environment. 

The issue, however, lies in how many Tulane students treat the city they have returned to. Returning to campus to regain some normalcy is one thing. Fleeing a cushy home to “social distance” at bars and restaurants while adding to the spread of coronavirus infection in a marginalized city is entirely different. 

Tulane may be “#1 Most Engaged in Community Service,” but its students do not care about the people that live in New Orleans. 

Along with refraining from wearing masks in public places this semester, Tulane students started drawing attention to their apathy for marginalized communities earlier this summer. During the height of the Black Lives Matter movement in June, there was a notable radio silence from a number of Tulane’s Greek life organizations. The organizations typically have no trouble flooding social media feeds with promotions about their single philanthropy, yet now seemed hesitant to demonstrate politically. 

Many have no desire to advocate for local change, either. The lack of diversity in Greek life and sporadic support of Sodexo workers are obvious examples of problems Tulane students could easily have a hand in changing, but decide not to due to apathy. 

What does this say about Tulane students? What sort of message are we sending to New Orleans citizens, 60% of whom are black? Far too large of a portion of the student body is uncomfortably content with coming into this city and using it as a playground to abandon after four years, regardless of the impact of their actions. 

Tulane students are indebted to New Orleans as long as they reside in it. Being able to enjoy one of the most enriching cities in America while giving back to those who live in it seems like a fair exchange.