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Questions & Comments

Have a question or comment for the commission? Please email Will Ferbos, Associate VP for Institutional Affairs at


What specific programs or ideas are there to minimize racial prejudice in the student body? Adding core racial awareness classes? When will cultural competency trainings/CEA workshops be made mandatory for service learners?

The Presidential Commission on Race and Tulane Values will identify the best ways to teach Tulane students cross-cultural understanding as well as awareness of their own privilege. This includes using the classroom to foster racial understanding and promote anti-racist attitudes and action. We know it is vital to teach students these lessons before they engage in service learning.  Doing so will increase our students’ knowledge and skills and ensure that they respect and understand, to the greatest extent possible, the communities they serve. These efforts will likely include embedding cross-cultural training in every freshman TIDES course and elsewhere in our curriculum. 


How can you ensure equal treatment for students of color who are already here, making sure the environment is supporting them once they’re here?

This, of course, is crucial. Hence, one of the primary tasks of the Commission is to improve the campus climate and teach all Tulane community members the values of respect, inclusion, equality, compassion and fundamental human dignity. This entails finding the best ways to foster a better sense of community for students of color, particularly African-American students, including expanding the role of The Carolyn Barber-Pierre Center for Intercultural Life. Creating a supportive community also means finding ways to address the hardships faced by students without means and the possibility of creating an emergency fund for them.  We are also examining the experience of students in the School of Professional Advancement and looking for more ways to include these students in campus life.


What is the Administration willing to do to invest in recruiting and going into communities of color and find future Tulanians? Why do we no longer have the services and positions within the university to recruit and retain minority students? When will we get them back?

All of the services and positions within the university dedicated to recruiting and retaining students of color are still in place. We are also working to significantly increase the number of students of color, particularly African-Americans, by examining our admissions policies and the level of financial aid we can make available to students from underrepresented communities.  This includes raising funds in order to better compete with our peers in recruiting students of color.


Will Africana Studies be able to hire another staff member so I can feel more supported? Will the classes be made more visible? Can there be a social justice course catalog?

Identifying methods and resources to support Africana Studies is a major component of the Commission’s mandate.  The Africana Studies department features world-class faculty, top students and alumni who have gone on to enjoy success in a wide array of professions. We are interested in ways to increase the demand for Africana studies, which currently has only 8 declared majors and 5 undeclared majors.


In addition to Posse and College Track, QuestBridge is another program that allows a path to elite schools for minority and low-income students. Partnering with them would allow campus diversity to increase, as well as allow some to attend Tulane who would otherwise be unable to financially.

Researching programs such as this while considering expansion of Posse and other efforts, are some of the many options our vice president of enrollment management will prioritize when he or she comes on board later this year. The Commission welcomes your recommendations.


The Financial Aid Office isn’t physically accessible and the only person of color in the disability office is the secretary. This is unwelcoming for students who often feel the shame of seeking financial assistance on a campus that looks down on lower-class students.

The overwhelming majority of Tulane students receive financial assistance of one form or another so no one should feel ashamed to visit the Financial Aid Office, which is accessible by elevator via the Flower Hall crosswalk. With respect to having a more diverse staff in Financial Aid Office, the vice president of enrollment management has had the opportunity to evaluate his staff and to make appropriate changes.


What penalties/consequences will there be for students who uphold behavior that makes minority students feel uncomfortable? i.e. posting hateful comments online, micro-aggression, outright racism, threats, etc.

Part of the effort to improve the campus climate for students of color, particularly African American students includes identifying ways to report, document and respond to racist incidents on campus. Tulane has an online reporting system at Reports made by students and employees are routed to appropriate departments for a response. We also plan to address the problems of racial profiling and suspicion and the role that Greek life should play in promoting racial understanding and eschewing acts that perpetuate stereotypes or historical injustices. For racist speech that does not rise to the level of threats of violence, we are working to establish protocols to appropriately respond to incidents of bias.


How do we change our image from a party school for those that can afford it to a more prestigious and serious school?

While Tulane’s location in New Orleans seems to ensure it a top spot in so-called “party school” rankings, only once, over the last five years, have we actually been listed in the top ten of such lists. Meanwhile, our academic rankings have increased in U.S. News and World Report and other influential rankings.


Can we add a truthful diversity statement in GWA training to be used rather than geographical diversity?

Highlighting our geographical diversity is unrelated to our racial and ethnic diversity and not meant as a substitute. We include information on our geographic diversity to tout our status as the country's most "national" university, where the average student's hometown is more than 917 miles away. While our ethnic and racial diversity has also increased and is on par with our peer institutions we are not satisfied and are determined to meaningfully grow the number of students, faculty and staff of color so that we may one day tout this, too.


How can we as students hold you as administrators accountable for incorporating antiracist practices into Tulane?

Student input and support is crucial to our goals of creating an academic community where students, faculty and staff from all racial and ethnic communities are welcomed, valued and supported. This is one reason why student representatives are such vital members of the Presidential Commission on Race and Tulane Values.


The Greek Community still expresses overt racism in party themes/in the largely segregated and all-white community we are. Is it progress just because we can talk openly about it?

Considering the role Greek life should play in improving the campus climate and eschewing hurtful and demeaning “traditions” is a central task of the Presidential Commission on Race and Tulane values.


Many, but not most people at this Town Hall are invested in this issue. How do we engage with those who are not engaged? What steps are being taken?

Speaking to your peers and professors about this issue, attending events such as the Town Hall, writing a letter to the editor or posting your support for racial inclusion and justice on social media are just some of the many ways to encourage more engagement on this important matter. The Presidential Commission of Race and Tulane Values, with student support, will also continue to raise the profile and awareness of this issue throughout the university community.


How can Tulane claim to be committed to social justice when they pay their food service workers, nearly all of whom are black residents of New Orleans, starvation wages? What does the Tulane administration plan to do to ensure its workers, who put food on our plates, can afford to put food on their family’s plates?

Starting salaries for Sodexo workers at Tulane are above minimum wage and their benefits are more generous than many in the food service industry. However, we will continue examining Tulane’s policies for contracted labor such as Sodexo workers to ensure they fully comply with our Vendor Labor Code of Conduct which requires Tulane vendors to operate in a socially responsible manner in all their labor and business practices.

Are there any efforts being undertaken to promote diversity and inclusion at the professional/graduate level?

All our efforts designed to increase the racial diversity of our students, faculty, staff and senior administrators will be applied at both the undergraduate and graduate/professional level. The Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (OGPS), which is a part of Academic Affairs, has begun to address this issue with Terminal Degree Marketing awards. Successful awards to terminal degree programs must include a diversity plan for recruiting underrepresented students. OGPS staff also recruit for the university at fairs that target underrepresented racial and ethnic minority students.


How will Tulane make itself a viable option for any New Orleans youth?

Tulane continues to be heavily involved in improving K-12 public school education in New Orleans. This promises to reap vast benefits for the community and grow the pool of New Orleans youth qualified to attend Tulane. Tulane also recruits in local high schools and has full scholarships available exclusively to students living in the city and region. We are committed to filling the vice president of enrollment management position with someone who can enhance these efforts and identify additional ways that Tulane can recruit a far more racially diverse student body.


What is the plan of action and timeline on achieving the student demands set forth?

The timeline depends on the complexity and cost involved in identifying and completing the numerous steps necessary to achieve our ultimate goal of a more racially diverse and supportive university community. We are focusing first on identifying problems that can be solved most quickly and reforms that can be implemented immediately. Then we will confront the longer-term and more difficult issues.