Tulane students issue COVID-19 demands...but they have nothing to do with COVID-19

A student group at Tulane University is demanding that the school provide a $15 minimum wage, offer reparations, defund police, and more, all in response to COVID-19.

Non-political organizations at the university also signed onto the demands.

A student group at Tulane University in New Orleans is demanding that the school provide a $15 minimum wage, “free” health insurance, reparations, and more as part of its “Spring 2021 Demands,” related to COVID-19.

The Tulane Student Action group released a lengthy list of demands on January 4 and encouraged students to email a scripted message with the demands to administration officials at Tulane University.

In response to COVID-19, they demanded a universal virtual learning option “in every available class at any point in the semester,” pass/fail grading across the board and a last-minute reduction in dorm occupancy. They also pushed for a $15 minimum wage for all Tulane employees, a full divestment from “fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds,” and abolishing the Tulane University Police Department.

[RELATED: College caves to students’ demands for ‘reparations fund,’ help for illegal immigrants]

The group claimed that “having a low income is a health concern as individuals may not be able to cover visits to the doctor or other vital medical expenses.” 

The Student Action Group also justified the demand to divest from fossil fuels by contending that “the fossil fuel industry is directly to blame for the climate change that makes hurricane season worse every year,” and that “the response to hurricanes -- evacuation and sheltering in large groups -- is inherently incompatible with the response to COVID-19 -- staying at home and social distancing.”

The document also called upon Tulane to adopt multiple previously released sets of demands. Notably, if the administration signed onto this group’s “New Years’ resolutions,” it would agree to abolish the Tulane University Policy Department and support any efforts to defund the New Orleans Police Department. It further called on Tulane to sign onto the demands that the Black Student Union released in July, which include a “zero-tolerance policy” for “bigoted language,” reparations, apologies from family members of dead former Tulane presidents, segregated floors in residence halls, and more.

[RELATED: Brown University police chief resigns amid ‘defund the police’ demands]

The group called on Tulane University to comply with the demands made by the school’s Black Student Union, which include reparations in the form of “full tuition, room and board, and a living stipend for descendants of enslaved people who labored at the Tulane plantation.”

While most signatories to the letter are social justice groups on campus, like Abolish TUPD and Sunrise Tulane, others are organizations with no inherent political angle. 

After School Allies, which is “dedicated to volunteering at local schools in New Orleans,” and Spoon University at Tulane, a “food publication by students, for students,” both co-signed the demands.

Long before releasing its spring demands, the Student Action Group repeatedly voiced its frustration regarding Tulane’s COVID-19 response. 

In early September, the organization planned a “die-in” in front of Gibson Hall, where demonstrators would bring gravestones and pretend to die in protest of the “racist, capitalist and imperialist structure that Tulane upholds” by keeping the campus open. 

According to the Student Action Group’s Instagram page, Tulane’s Office of Student Conduct then emailed the group advising it to cancel the die-in since it was “in violation of COVID protocol.

Campus Reform reached out to the university for comment but did not receive a response.