The convergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the epidemic of police brutality has created a moment that is unprecedented in our history. This convergence has disproportionately impacted the LGBTQ+, DACA, undocumented, first-generation college, Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities served by the Center for Academic Equity. Our response must likewise be unprecedented in its scope and longevity.
While the pandemic presents a new challenge, it has served primarily to exacerbate pre-existing social and economic injustices. Black communities and communities of color within the United States have long suffered from over-policing, unequal housing, limited educational opportunities, and health disparities that have dramatically curtailed our life chances.
Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities carry a disproportionate burden of illness and death due to the novel coronavirus. Public charge rules deter many immigrants from accessing medical services and delays in promised federal funding hamper COVID-19 response among Native American communities. Black and Latinx workers have suffered record job losses in 2020 and are overrepresented in the category of essential workers who face health insecurity due to their work during the pandemic.
The pandemic is creating upheavals in students' lives, leading to isolation, loss of community, and for some students, sheltering in unsafe spaces. Many of our students do not have the technology or connectivity to engage easily in on-line learning. First-generation college students come from households that are more likely to be affected by job loss during this recession. Further exacerbating inequities, the support offered by the federal government remains out of reach for international, DACA, and undocumented Tulanians.
Our students and their families continually exhibit determination and resilience in the face of the inequities that have characterized their negotiation through American society and higher education. As students return to campus, the Center for Academic Equity stands ready to support their growth and development and to serve as advocates for their success at Tulane through a portfolio of resources and programs. These opportunities range from help accessing course-based learning tools to mentoring support from faculty and staff.
The challenges at this moment are significant, but so too are the opportunities to create changes. We invite students to share their academic concerns with Newcomb-Tulane College, help shape the Center’s direction, and engage with our community.
Dr. Paula Nicole Booke