State of the TUnion

Lily Mae Lazarus and Rohan Goswami

Tulane University’s academic quad is quiet in between classes. (Gabe Darley)

There are 57 days until the end of Tulane University’s 2021-2022 academic year. In just over one week, Tulanians will kick their feet up for spring break, which is back by popular demand. Before students, faculty, staff and community members alike take a much needed repose, it seems fitting to give an annual State of the TUnion. 

Since students returned to Tulane in August 2021, campus has undergone four face mask policy changes, the expanding of vaccine requirements, three quarantine and isolation time changes and 10 different testing policies. Although campus life is trending towards normalcy, COVID-19 remains ever present within the community.

While navigating the ever changing pandemic policies, students, faculty and staff experienced mass displacement during Hurricane Ida. Storm damage prevented students from returning to campus until late September. Upon their return, on-campus students reported hundreds of dorm room thefts, an inarguably bad welcome home gift. To top it all off, administrators extended the fall semester, leaving students with no time off from the academic grind. 

The Tulane community has shown resilience in the past months despite new and lingering obstacles. Now, they must navigate New Orleans’ crime surge and ongoing street closures. Tulane University Police Department has responded to more than a dozen carjackings in its patrol jurisdiction. Carjackings are up 110% since 2019. 

TUPD has also arrested numerous Tulane students in connection to various crimes Uptown ranging from hit and runs to theft to attempted sexual assault. For Tulanians, it is an all around bad time to own a car and an even worse time to commit a crime.

It has not been a calm academic year for Tulane administrators, no thanks to The Tulane Hullabaloo. The School of Medicine’s residency program was placed on and remains on probation following allegations of discrimination, Reily Recreation Center employees threatened to strike and the football team had a remarkably bad season.

In November alone, students led a mass anti-sexual violence protest, former employees accused Campus Health leadership of creating a hostile work environment and The Hullabaloo discovered a TUPD security breach and a Campus Health privacy breach

The fall semester was not all bad. University President Mike Fitts announced that Tulane would raise its employee minimum wage to $15, and women’s basketball dominated for much of the season, doing what football could not.

While the fall semester can only be described as “messy,” students returned this spring with Mardi Gras on their minds: the first Carnival since 2021. By and large — disregarding a stabbing at The Boot Bar and Grill and Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s efforts to stamp out second lining — it proved to be a delighting (if not relaxing) interlude from the delayed start and chaos of the omicron variant.

Now, with the Undergraduate Student Government restructuring imminent and midterms in full swing, students can look forward to spring break just weeks away. There is a long wait until Commencement, however, where “Hangover” star Dr. Ken Jeong will deliver the keynote address

The class of 2020, who left New Orleans amidst the dawning of the COVID-19 pandemic, can look forward to hearing from astronaut Doug Hurley ‘88, who left New Orleans for outer space.

Hullabaloo reporters also had the chance to chat with two Tulane luminaries — Brian Edwards, dean of the School of Liberal Arts, and Patrick Norton, senior vice president and chief operating officer — as part of an expansive series profiling university leadership.

Tulanians can look forward to much more in the coming weeks — with Bookfest over and thievery rampant in the dorms — as the weather warms and the sun shines.

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