A Townhall Report

Here's a synopsis of this evening's townhall meeting with the Dean (my apologies to anyone who doesn't understand all the shorthand references):

- The recent "blog issue" that gained the school some notoriety sparked the townhall meeting.

- Despite a "headcount stabilization" policy that's really a hiring freeze, the school just hired two new professors, one in Civil Law and one in Tax.  A third diversity hire is anticipated in the semester.

- On the student side, applications are up 6-7% this year over last year (and last year was up 15% over the prior year).  This is an encouraging sign when numbers are down or flat nationally.

- On the recent blog incident: "The decision to have a party with a theme that perpetuated an ethnic stereotype was insensitive."  Though it was noted the event was not malicious, the event did "cast the school in a very unfavorable light."  The SBA President was present and spoke with regret.  The photos were, in fact, set at "private" for New Orleans and Tulane friends only.  Bottom line: "Those particular attitudes should not have a place at the table in this institution."

- The incident at the Children's Museum was also discussed.  It was suggested that students need to take affirmative steps to address these issues - and it was suggested that the SBA... reduce the number of bar reviews, inviting speakers on diversity or cultural sensitivity instead.

-  Open Floor:
- An older student carped about FB and the hit on the value of his degree.
- The harmful effects of Facebook, alcohol, penalties, etc. were discussed
- A student called for an official response to all the instances.  The dean defended against the need for such a response, especially in light of the private nature of the latest incident (it was not an official event, no need to re-open the scab, etc.).
       - A Willy Nelson ringtone intruded.
       - One bearded student laid out a convincing litany of items from the past year illustrating the failure of the administration to communicate with the student body - "everything is rumor."
       - "I think we could do a better job disseminating things to you."
       - Another student spoke about the BE situation and the confusion surrounding it.
       - I seconded the speaker about the need for better communication and focused specifically on the failings attending the Chao Tang incident.

       - One final item of interest before I departed:  The Code of Professionalism that was voted on in November to replace the existing Honor Code was, in fact, passed - as I finally learned officially in the new DICTA.  However, there is another Code of Professionalism that was drafted by students after the Children's Museum incident - which is aspirational in nature - that is still under review by the administration and will be approved by students at a later date (very confusing).