21 students elected to new TUA body

Ellie Cowen, Staff Writer

Ikwesilotuto Ezeh said equity is a priority in her delegate role. (Courtesy of Ikwesilotuto Ezeh)

Students cast their ballots on Nov. 15 electing 21 students to Tulane Undergraduate Assembly, the body that replaced Undergraduate Student Government after accusations of racism last year. The original plan allotted six delegates to each grade and seven additional chosen from a random lottery, but only 21 students ran for a position. 

The delegates elected this year were a mix of new students and some previously involved in USG. 

“I was in USG before and I am deeply committed to serving the student body and being involved in student government,” Delegate Ikwesilotuto Ezeh said. “When I heard that a new and much improved version of student government was being introduced, I was compelled to continue my passion of serving the Tulane community.”

The new structure of government is a 34-person undergraduate assembly, with internally elected positions of co-chairs, treasurer and committee heads. Committees include Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative Committee, Campus Sustainability Committee and Tulane History Project Advisory Committee, along with 12 others.

Because this is the first year of the revamped TUA, internal body elections took place immediately but are normally set to occur in April. Jay Hartley and DaSean Spencer will serve as TUA co-chairs, Letitia Xiong as EDI chair and Gabrielle Reese as treasurer. 

Other elected positions include Peyton Friedlander as elections and transitions chair and Sadye Boshak as student experience chair. Edward John He will serve as the community accountability committee head. 

Although TUA confronts the same lack of student engagement that challenged USG, delegates are hopeful that the new body can gain attention. 

“We never reached full senatorial capacity in USG, and it seems USG’s shadow looms large over TUA,” Delegate Ethan Lewis said. “Hopefully, as students start noticing more tangible impacts of TUA on campus, interest in involvement will increase.” 

Ethan Lewis hopes to see TUA involvement increase. (Courtesy of Ethan Lewis)

Critics of USG said its previous structure allowed for a lack of transparency and disjointedness between committees and leadership. The new structure is designed for more clear expectations of delegate jobs and a more responsive student government.  

“The past body was very convoluted and not very efficient in representing the needs of all Tulanians. It also bred a spirit of competitiveness that led to the weaponizing of its rules and regulations by students against other students,” Ezeh said. “I hope this new body — and I really believe we can — create a safer space [to] represent and advocate for what’s in the best interest of all Tulane students.” 

Lewis served as a representative in USG last year as Architecture Student Government president. This year, he was elected the Student Activity Free Allocations Committee co-chair.  

He condemned past USG dysfunction. 

“I witnessed a dysfunctional, toothless organization that was often on the defensive to internal crises rooted in the racism and elitism of the institution,” Lewis said. “Our response to external challenges facing the student body was all too often listening sessions or hollow resolutions that failed to transform into any substantive policy.” 

In future years, TUA will hold elections in September and March. September elections will select first year delegates and March elections will choose sophomores, juniors and seniors. Elected delegates will hold their positions for one year. 

New delegates expressed a range of hopes and goals for TUA with a focus on increasing efficiency, inclusivity and bettering the lives of Tulane students in the short and long term. 

“I hope that we can have collaborative discussions focused on increasing inclusivity on campus. I also would like to determine issues that the student body really cares about and address those,” Delegate Roma Kulluru said. 

Lewis also said he believes it is important for TUA to build relationships with faculty and administration in order to be most effective and respected as a representation of student voice. He also said he wants to immediately focus on improving the ease of students’ lives. 

Roma Kulluru hopes to increase campus inclusivity in her TUA role. (Courtesy of Roma Kulluru)

“On campus, we can take up a few simple changes next semester that could drastically improve our quality of life,” Lewis said. “These include requiring the release of sample syllabi during class registration and reducing red tape for student organization financing, such as legalizing the use of Venmo for receiving dues.”

TUA also controls the student activities fund where organizations can apply for funds for events, food for meetings and other organization improvements. Delegates this year said they are interested in managing this fund thoughtfully. 

“By consciously managing and allocating that pool of funding to extracurricular organizations that demonstrate strong leadership and focus on improving campus climate through more profound interventions rather than the to-wasteful free stuff giveaways, we can build a positive, inclusive campus culture,” Lewis said. 

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