Active citizenship on the Hill
The KONY 2012 campaign hit the Hill this semester as it did across the country, with Tufts’ chapter of Invisible Children organizing a lecture by a survivor of Joseph Kony’s regime who spoke about his experience.
Two Tufts student organizations, Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Tufts Friends of Israel (FOI), were the source of frequent debate on campus. Each group hosted a weeklong series of events, called Israeli Apartheid Week and Israel Peace Week, respectively. The groups throughout the semester also organized and sponsored various other events and lectures.
Members of SJP confronted several Tufts Community Union (TCU) senators about an advertisement in the Daily in early March featuring several TCU senators pledging their support for the U.S.-Israel relationship, which SJP members said violated a Senate bylaw forbidding senators from using the Senate’s name to promote causes not approved by the body as a whole. However, the TCU Judiciary ruled at a hearing later in the month that no bylaws had been breached.
SJP members walked out of a lecture by Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren while wearing red tape across their mouths. Protest participants said they were carrying out an act of “civil disobedience” rather than walking away from dialogue.
The Tufts Occupiers continued their efforts from last semester, including organizing a kiss-in protest in Boston with other members of Students Occupy Boston to protest student loan debt.
Most recently, at the Karl Rove lecture sponsored by the Tufts Republicans, students protested by staging a waterboarding re-enactment. They said they took fault with Rove’s involvement in torture under the Bush administration.
Distinguished individuals visit the Hill
Well-known scholar, activist and advocate for global and domestic civil rights Cornel West spoke about the need for democratic and social reform as part of the Faculty Progressive Caucus’ American Democracy in Crisis Series.
Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren visited the Hill to discuss the U.S.-Israel relationship.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and Chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party John Walsh visited the Hill to participate in the College Democrats of Massachusetts’ annual Winter Summit, hosted by Tufts Democrats.
Father Patrick Desbois spoke about his search for unidentified mass graves from the Holocaust.
Lois Gibbs, an environmental activist that spearheaded the Love Canal campaign, spoke about the intersection between environmental activism and the media.
President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson visited the Hill for a two-day dialogue concerning government, business and media leaders from the eight Arctic Council countries.
After the Tufts Republicans announced that Herman Cain had canceled his appearance set for earlier this month, the group booked Karl Rove, former senior advisor and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, who last week spoke about his White House career.
NBC Nightly News anchor and managing editor Brian Williams discussed his career, entertainment journalism and the upcoming elections last week for the seventh annual Edward R. Murrow Forum on Issues in Journalism.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick will give a lecture tonight on immigration reform at 8:00 p.m. in Cohen Auditorium as the keynote speaker for the 2012 Merrin Distinguished Lecture Series.
More administrative changes on the Hill
David Harris, senior associate dean at Cornell University’s College of Arts and Sciences, beginning this summer will assume the position of university provost and senior vice president. The position was vacated last summer by Jamshed Bharucha and is currently filled on an interim basis by Vice Provost Peggy Newell.
Eric Johnson, former executive director of development, assumed the position of vice president for university advancement this month. He had previously held the position on an interim basis after former Senior Vice President for University Advancement Brian Lee left to fulfill a position at California Institute of Technology in March.
Associate Professor of Philosophy Nancy Bauer last week was appointed dean of academic affairs in the School of Arts and Sciences. She will assume the position this summer, replacing Dean of Academic Affairs for Arts and Sciences Andrew McClellan, who will return to teaching in the Art History Department. She will work alongside Dean of Academic Affairs for Arts and Sciences James Glaser.
At The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Professor of International Politics Vali Nasr (F ’84, LA ’83) is leaving the Hill to take up a post as dean of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University this summer. Nasr has served on the Fletcher faculty since 2007.
Leila Fawaz, the Issam M. Fares professor of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean Studies and founding director of the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies, will leave her position as director of the Fares Center at the end of this year. Fawaz plans to return to the faculty and focus on research.
Policy changes on the Hill
The Committee on Student Life (CSL) unanimously agreed to remove any record of a student being on Disciplinary Probation II (Pro II) from his or her transcript at the end of his or her probationary period. This was a dramatic change over the previous policy, wherein students’ Pro II status remained on their transcript for four years after the start of the probationary period, regardless of the length of probation. The new policy also applies retroactively to alumni, who previously could still have the indication of Pro II on their transcripts even if the probationary period started late in their freshman year.
Students also pushed to change the marijuana policy at Tufts this semester in an attempt to separate it from the alcohol policy and bring it more in line with Massachusetts state policy. Although the TCU Senate, Tufts University Police Department, Dean of Student Affairs Bruce Reitman and University President Anthony Monaco approved the policy change, a referendum intended for this election cycle did not go forward after the CSL pointed out that implementation of this change might violate federal policy, causing the university to lose federal funding. Tufts Students for Sensible Drug Policy will continue to push for reform.
TCU branches wrap up semester of initiatives
The TCU Senate in February launched the monthly TCU Newsletter as a means of providing students with relevant information about upcoming events and initiatives within the Tufts community. The first issue was sent in an email to the entire undergraduate student body, and a second was sent to students who opted in to subscribe to later editions.
The TCU Senate in March rejected a resolution that would have encouraged the university and campus groups to interpret the non-discrimination policy in a way that allows religious groups to choose leaders who reflect their views. Several members of the body expressed the belief that the resolution was proposed as a response to controversy surrounding the Tufts Christian Fellowship, which has faced discrimination complaints from students barred from serving on its leadership board.
The TCU Judiciary in February revamped the club re-recognition process in an attempt to clarify which student groups are currently active and to keep all club records current. The new system did not constitute a policy change but instead served to streamline the re-recognition process.
Junior and TCU Vice President Wyatt Cadley was elected TCU President this month over Senator Logan Cotton, also a junior, in a race in which both sides extensively used social media platforms. The election saw a student voter turnout of 49.79 percent, up from last year’s 31 percent, and gave Cadley the win with 60 percent of the total vote to Cotton’s 40 percent.
Admissions rates once again hit an all-time low
The Office of Undergraduate Admissions at the end of March announced its admissions decisions for Tufts’ Class of 2016, which had an acceptance rate of 21 percent, the lowest in Tufts’ history. Despite an applicant pool slightly smaller than last year’s, the acceptance rate was the second consecutive record low and the third straight year in which the acceptance rate has declined. Fewer students were accepted because of a change in the Office of Admissions’ expected yield rate due to higher-than-expected yield in recent years.
New university programs underway
After years of student and faculty campaigning, the Africana studies major will launch in the fall of 2013 under the umbrella of the new Critical Studies in Disparities and Diasporas (C2D) program.
The Race and Ethnicity Working Group is proposing an Asian American studies minor, which would also be housed in the C2D program.
The administration also launched the Office of Intercultural and Social Identities Programs in March as a space for students to bring attention to issues of racial, ethnic and identity diversity on campus.
In the fall, the Geology department will change its name to the Earth and Ocean Sciences department in an effort to modernize and clarify its mission to the student body.
Lupe Fiasco, The White Panda and Guster perform at Spring Fling
With a new budget of $150,000, Concert Board hosted Spring Fling this year featuring artists Lupe Fiasco, The White Panda and Guster. Although LMFAO was chosen as the Spring Fling headliner through a survey sent to students last December, Concert Board was later informed by LMFAO’s agent that, although Tufts outbid other promoters and universities for the group, the duo “got injured doing the wiggle” and had to cancel their spring tour. Rather than choosing one of the survey’s less popular options, Concert Board chose to book an artist with LMFAO’s “high energy.”
Transportation off the Hill
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in January proposed several fare increases and service cuts in an attempt to close an estimated $161-million fiscal year 2013 budget deficit. The most recent MBTA plan was a 23-percent fare hike for riders, the first fare increase since 2007.
The MBTA’s $80-million Red Line construction project, which stopped weekend Red Line service outbound of Harvard Square beginning in November, was completed on March 4. The Red Line, including the station in Davis Square, re-opened to travelers on March 10.
The Tufts weekend shuttle to Harvard Square, which was implemented in the fall semester to compensate for the stoppage in Red Line service, ran for the entire spring semester because of its popularity among students.
Tufts goes green
Arts and Sciences faculty meetings and Arts, Sciences and Engineering faculty meetings became more environmentally friendly this school year by encouraging recycling, composting and reducing paper copies of agendas.
The Department of Geology and the Facilities Services Department installed a geothermal well outside Lane Hall, which is being used to heat and cool a classroom. This unit serves both as a green initiative and as a way for students to observe and learn about geothermal heating and cooling.
Software technology company Greenbean Recycle installed a recycling machine in the Mayer Campus Center to encourage more students to recycle. Recyclers receive five cents for each bottle or can recycled.
The new Campus Sustainability Council has been meeting about ways to continue promoting sustainability at Tufts.
The Environmental Studies Program proposed a change to its curriculum that would allow students to explore an interdisciplinary core of courses in addition to more course requirements for their specific concentrations. The current curriculum has eight core courses and three electives in any one track, while the new proposal would have five core courses and five specialized courses.
Conferences and symposiums on the Hill
The 27th Annual Norris and Margery Bendetson Education for Public Inquiry and International Citizenship (EPIIC) International Symposium brought together students, intellectuals, activists and political figures to discuss “Conflict in the 21st Century.”
The third annual Barack Obama and American Democracy conference brought together a collection of academics, activists and authors, including poet Sonia Sanchez, to reflect on healthcare, active citizenship and civic engagement through the lens of Obama’s presidency.
The two-day-long China-U.S. Symposium focused on leadership transitions in the United States and in China and on the two countries’ political and social relations, highlighting the fact that both nations are having presidential elections this year.
Tufts Emerging Black Leaders held its eighth annual symposium, which addressed the issues of meritocracy, or lack thereof, in American society.
The Tufts Energy Conference featured panelists from industrial, governmental and non-profit organizations, as well as professors who discussed global and local energy issues and potential solutions to those problems.
—Compiled by the Tufts Daily News Department