Students at two New Orleans universities drop banners to protest attacks on diversity, equity and inclusion
New Orleans, LA – On Tuesday March 28, dozens of students at Loyola University of New Orleans and the University of New Orleans hung banners at their respective schools displaying the slogans: “Defend diversity, equity and inclusion,” “Protect student multicultural organizations” and “Increase Black enrollment!”
The two actions protested Florida House Bill 999. If enacted into law, this bill would attack diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs, staff jobs, faculty positions, and multicultural student groups. The students showed their solidarity with students in Florida and demanded that their schools take strong positions against any such legislation in Louisiana. Both groups also demanded that all charges be dropped against the Tampa 4, the four SDS activists arrested in Florida for protesting to defend DEI earlier in March.
HB 999 is set to ban multicultural studies, such as the African American and Diaspora Studies major being demanded by University of New Orleans students. It also threatens faculty tenure, multicultural and gender-based student organizations, and other types of academic freedom. The UNO group Students United issued a statement demanding that UNO guarantee that it will protect existing programs and organizations, expand its diversity programs, protect tenured faculty and increase Black enrollment.
The twin actions showed the increasing level of organization and activity being built by the student movement of New Orleans. Loyola students marched with their banner chanting “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Ron DeSantis, go away!” and “When trans rights are under attack, what do we do? stand up, fight back!” They ended their march by tying their banner up where it could be easily seen. At the same time, UNO students stood with their banner in front of the University Center and chanted “Money for schools and education, not racist legislation.” UNO students entered the University Center and fixed their banner to be in sight of those entering the building, where it remains as of the writing of this article.
Students United UNO and the Young Democratic Socialists of America of Loyola (both affiliates of Students for a Democratic Society) organized the joint protests to answer a national SDS call to action over HB 999.