A Call for Unity

Dear Tulane Community:

Tulane University embraces the fundamental values of diversity, inclusivity and respect for all of our students, faculty and staff. The freedom to discover and celebrate who we are and the unique contributions we can all make to our society are the hallmarks of a Tulane education.

Events of this past week have tested these principles and highlighted concerns I have heard from students, faculty, staff, parents and board members regarding diversity at Tulane.

Yesterday, I was made aware of recent postings on the anonymous social media platform Yik Yak regarding race at Tulane. Many of these statements, purportedly made by Tulane students, are deeply disturbing and offensive. The Constitution protects free speech, but conscience demands a reply to words that run so counter to the core values of Tulane – a university community that seeks, supports and celebrates diversity and difference.

In my conversations with students, I have heard the frustration that many of our underrepresented students, particularly African-Americans, feel both in the classroom as well as across campuses. These same issues are expressed by the student body as a whole and were highlighted in the recommendations recently submitted by the Undergraduate Experience Task Force.

These recommendations include establishing a central office focused on increasing enrollment and providing greater support of underserved populations at Tulane. But it is not enough to increase the number of students of color or first-generation students. All of our students need to know that they belong, that they are valued, that they are critical to our academic mission and that they are among friends.

While Tulane is increasing the number of students of color and first-generation students, we have so much more to do. Implementing the recommendations of the Undergraduate Experience Task Force is an important step, but so too are individual acts and attitudes that ensure every member of the Tulane community is treated with respect and dignity.

On Wednesday, the Office of Multicultural Affairs hosted a teach-in for students and faculty about the events taking place nationally and how these issues play out at Tulane. We are also planning a Presidential Town Hall meeting at the beginning of next semester to discuss these issues in more depth.

More immediately, we will hold a Call for Unity in Pocket Park at 4 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 18. This will be an opportunity for all of us to gather together, hear from students on these issues and, most importantly, show our support, care and unity for all members of our community.