The tyrants among us: HRL's grave injustices
Students forced to surrender their right to privacy to a bureaucracy
October 3, 2008

This is a call to arms. For too long we have accepted cowardly morals forced onto us by supposed institutions of authority. It's time to rebel against an unjust, arbitrary and over-reaching bureaucracy.

The offensive behavior and policies of Tulane's administrators derive from cowardice and forced complacency indicative of an immoral allocation of power and a lack of transparency. So let us reveal the behavior that is an impediment to our happiness and liberty.

To better understand the consequences of Tulane's policies, we must explain the conditions that make them offensive to our sensibilities. HRL's [Housing and Residental Life's] two-year, on-campus housing requirement serves as a part of my argument. This writing will not address HRL's refusal to publicly lift the policy in the face of severe overcrowding. Instead, we will take the on-campus housing requirement as a premise and use it to reach an important conclusion.

The way students fight back against the requirement is indicative of some of the problems created when an authority treats its subjects with contempt.

Formal routes of appeal have broken down and created a scenario that rewards repressive and immoral behavior. If you are a freshman who wishes to live off campus next year, then you have a couple of ways to go about doing it.

You can either have your parents call and literally shout until HRL submits, or you can lie or forge documents that "prove" you are a commuter student or mentally incapable of living near other people. A well-reasoned appeal addressing, for example, your dissatisfaction with the policy I am about to reveal will get you absolutely nowhere.

This leads to my next point: the on-campus housing requirement forces moral and independent students to subject themselves to policies they may not agree with. Therefore, the argument that students have an actual choice to assent to Tulane's policies is false when we consider the implications of the housing requirement.

The offensive policies I've been speaking of are numerous, and most of them will certainly see these pages some day.

For this article, however, I would like to focus on the way HRL staff behaves when a police officer wishes, without a warrant, to search the room of a student. Not only does HRL staff have the power to grant them access, they do so unquestioningly. After speaking with many high-ranking housing officials, I have not been told of a single instance where an HRL member denied an officer his/her request.

The specifics of Tulane's policy on drugs is beyond the scope of this article, but the public needs to know police officers regularly receive permission to search a room this way, and if they find what they're looking for (usually pot) then the student, at the very least, spends the night in the Orleans Parish Prison. The worst part is the HRL member could have stopped it all if he [was interested in] defending the rights of his residents.

By any reasonable community standard, this disregard of student privacy is unjust. But, Tulane doesn't use any reasonable community standard when it creates rules and policy. Motivated by fear, contempt and greed, the university stubbornly refuses to reason with students instead of creating rules that allow for negotiation or compromise.

We can do something about this. By "we," I don't just mean my fellow students — I mean residential advisors, area directors, student affairs associates, professors and even TUPD. Search your feelings and your reason. If you really feel the way Tulane handles the situation is adequate, even satisfactory, then there's nothing I can do for you, and I will not blame you for doing what you think is right. But, if you don't — if you know deep down something is wrong with the way things are done here — yet still continue to enforce such behavior, then you should be ashamed.

The formal channels of change are broken; we must act out against the injustice around us with both vigor and passion. You always have choice: If you think it's wrong to give an officer access to a room over a student's objections, then don't do it. If you think a policy is wrong, then you must refuse to follow it. Because only then can we begin to remove ourselves from this atmosphere of suppression.

Copyright 2008, Hullabaloo

From: Tulane Hullabaloo [Views], October 3, 2008,, accessed 10/03//08.  Jeff Silberman is a sophomore in Newcomb-Tulane College and the Hullabaloo's Views editor.  He can be reached at  The Hullabaloo is a student-run newspaper at Tulane University.  Reprinted in accordance with the "fair use" provision of Title 17 U.S.C. § 107 for a non-profit educational purpose.