An e-mail that Tulane sent out to its entire student body. For context, Tulane is in New Orleans, and I’ll note that even all the way back in April, one of my Black students had already lost 4 relatives in New Orleans to Covid-19. Please keep the racial demographics in mind as you read this letter. Tulane’s students are 71% white. New Orleans is 60% Black.
Over the weekend, in spite of our pleas to the contrary, many of our students living in New Orleans chose to have parties and large gatherings where social distancing wasn’t being practiced and face masks weren’t being worn. They then saw fit to post this all-over social media. This comes on the heels of national news attention about super spreader events. These events were disruptive to our neighbors and drew a lot of very negative attention to Tulane. The behaviors of the student hosts and those who chose to attend these parties was disrespectful, selfish and dangerous and not in line with Tulane values. This type of behavior is indefensible and truly shameful.
For those of you who are returning students, as you know, we are incredibly lucky that Tulane is in a city that is unlike any in the country, a city where culture and community matter and one that honors difference. After an initial surge of infections, the citizens of New Orleans came together to flatten the curve of this pandemic and reduce infections to a rate that allowed for our city to begin reopening. The actions of the individuals over the weekend were very publicly disrespectful to the Tulane University community and to the people of New Orleans, and have the potential to undermine our significant progress against this deadly disease.
The calculation is simple – If you want to have a residential experience at Tulane in the fall, you have to behave differently. This means, no large gatherings (+15 people), and at all times wearing masks in public spaces, practicing social distancing and washing your hands. We are finishing our complete enforcement plan for the fall, but it is clear that this message had to be delivered immediately. DO NOT HOST PARTIES OR GATHERINGS WITH MORE THAN 15 PEOPLE, INCLUDING THE HOST. IF YOU DO, YOU WILL FACE SUSPENSION OR EXPULSION FROM THE UNIVERSITY. All gatherings, of any size, must observe appropriate social distancing and attendees should wear masks. There is no room for error here. People’s lives depend on your adherence to these rules. They aren’t just nameless, faceless people – they are our people.
So please, make decisions with this in mind. We understand that it requires a different way of thinking about and approaching life – but we believe our students are conscientious enough and mature enough to adhere to the public health expectations of Tulane and the City of New Orleans. If we didn’t, we would not be reopening. We need everyone’s help to have a safe fall. Hold your friends and peers accountable and reach out when you need help with that. You can report problematic behavior by using our online report system. These reports are received in real time. You can also call the Tulane University Police at 504-865-5381.
Do you really want to be the reason that Tulane and New Orleans have to shut down again?
Dean of Students”