OPINION | Tulane should dedicate more resources to teaching Black narratives

Gabi Liebeler, Staff Writer

Gabe Darley | Senior Staff Artist

As racial diversity has increased on Tulane University’s campus, the school has failed to incorporate BIPOC narratives and history into its curriculum. Despite the introduction of reforms aimed to address a “diversity deficit,” the school clearly has difficulty ensuring that the entire Tulane community is deeply committed to making our educational and social environment feel welcoming to students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. 

 As Black History Month comes to a close, our community must ask itself how we can continue to educate ourselves about past and current injustices and make this school a place where minorities and people of color feel like they are given proper attention, education, opportunity and care.  

In 2017, Tulane mandated that all students take classes on subjects of racial diversity and global perspectives, following reports of harassment of minority students, offensive statements by Greek organizations and racist comments on anonymous social media apps.   

Tulane’s student body is 69.2% white, 7.7% Hispanic/Latino, 7.3% Black, 5.2% non-resident, and 4.7% Asian; by comparison, Tulane’s faculty is 71.9% white, 9.2% Asian, 5.1% Black, and 4.6% non-resident. Both statistics are unrepresentative of New Orleans, which is predominantly Black. Is Tulane fully equipped to teach effective classes about racial diversity and minority history given that our faculty, like our student body, is overwhelmingly white?

As online classes increase accessibility to a myriad of courses and curriculums, Tulane should consider partnering with historically Black colleges and universities in the New Orleans and Louisiana area, such as Xavier University of Louisiana, Southern University at New Orleans and Dillard University.  

An article published on diverseeducation.com says that HBCUs are home to more supportive environments that are conducive to higher rates of academic and post-graduate success for their students. Further, it posits that collaboration between predominantly white institutions and HBCUs can enrich the lives of black students at PWIs by providing support mechanisms that may be lacking, especially in academic fields in which minorities are typically underrepresented.  

Partnerships between PWIs and HBCUs can also be beneficial to both sides in the graduate realm. For PWIs, HBCUs may function as recruitment pools for graduate programs, and for HBCUs, partnering with a PWI may increase funding used to send students to graduate schools.  Both the University of California system and Columbia University partner with multiple HBCUs to increase access to graduate programs.

If Tulane decides to form better relationships with HBCUs in Louisiana, and with HBCUs around the country, both undergraduate and graduate diversity and education could benefit immensely. Additionally, partnerships may increase faculty diversity and research accessibility, subsequently diversifying the school’s curriculum and faculty makeup.  

Tulane constantly reminds its faculty and students that they engage in tireless work to make the community more equitable and representative. However, most recently, Tulane University School of Medicine faculty was sued after Dr. Princess Dennar, an administrator in the Tulane School of Medicine and the first Black woman to hold the role of medical director, accused other medical school leaders of race- and gender-based discrimination. On Feb. 18, the university released a response to Dennar’s public letter, which said, “We are committed to fostering an environment where every single member of our community can learn and thrive.  And to do that, we must all be willing to ask tough questions, challenge our assumptions, attentively listen to each other, and work together.” 

Although this message is admirable, as we reflect on Black History Month, our community must understand that while words are crucial to making a community feel inclusive on the surface, they mean nothing without concrete efforts and actions.