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Editorial | Tufts-owned warehouse residents should accept fate

Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013

Updated: Thursday, April 11, 2013 01:04


A community of artists in a warehouse close to Tufts who have stayed there for a number of years have been given six months to leave the premises. The artisans, who run businesses out of the warehouse involving a number of different crafts, including furniture construction, have stayed there for many decades doing their craftwork. The university now intends to use the building for teaching and office space. The inhabitants of the warehouse have voiced their disappointment in losing a space for sharing and learning about artwork and each others’ crafts.

These objections aren’t enough to reverse Tufts’ right to evict them from its property, however. In many ways, it has a responsibility to take advantage of such spaces to further the education of its students.

There is an argument to be made for supporting communities of artists and a communal lifestyle. There is a time and place for that argument, but now is not the time or place for it. Tufts owns the property, and, as such, should take advantage of it. As students, we should hopefully be lucky enough to have our tuition utilized in the most efficient manner. The warehouse space could house more classes that may otherwise have to be taught in unconventional areas. Public Relations Director Kim Thurler noted that Tufts has found it needs more and more space. While artists and art are something the campus should encourage, these artists can both petition the towns of Medford and Somerville or buy a new space together. At the same time, Tufts can still use that space for the arts. Art students could retain parts of the space for any number of activities, from classes to open practices to additional workshop space outside the Crafts Center.

Tufts has a responsibility to educate its students and its artists to be the best that they can be. Those students are best served, again, when their tuition is not subsidizing people who, one way or another, have not had the opportunity to affect their education. The artists, who will hopefully find a new place to continue making hand-crafted goods and furniture and make a living from it, have gotten in the way of others’ learning and perhaps doing the same some day. Though it could appear to be a cause worth advocating — allowing these artisans to stay and not evict them — the campus has a responsibility to follow through on its mission. 

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8 comments Log in to Comment

Thu Apr 18 2013 17:15
Well what do you all expect from a working class stiff? Lets me be clear - Tufts and its students rob the communities they are in of $10M each year. Its now time for them to start paying a fair share and that is not 10 cents on the dollar.
And, whats more... I would not waste my time or money at a rich kid party place like Tufts.
Thu Apr 18 2013 10:46
that's some mighty fine illogic you've got going there, brianna. the grammar needs some work, though.

"Thats probably why Tufts applications are dropping while other schools are increasing. "

Wed Apr 17 2013 13:02
Sounds like the Tufts Administration, Barbara Rubel, and other minions are continuing to trash talk Medford and Somerville. Tufts is the biggest taker in both communities- costing each city well over $5M each per year. In 10 years that $100 million in lost tax revenue- that could fund new schools, infrastructures, and open green space.

BTW I dont need to use the green spaces at Tufts- because I can enjoy the lakes, bike paths, and other green areas we have. Also, when I want to hear Bill Clinton speak I will attend a professional event- not a campaign rally at Tufts.

As for the education Tufts provides. If your investing $50K per year ... you or your family start $200K in the hole... and I dont think you can make it up vs. going to a UMass or more affordable school. Thats probably why Tufts applications are dropping while other schools are increasing.

Mon Apr 15 2013 00:48
@"taxtuftsnow": The fact that you live near and dislike Tufts doesn't qualify you to make blanket judgments about the quality of the education it offers. The late nights spent poring over textbooks and putting together research papers haven't made me feel particularly good, as you suggest, but they have helped me land a quality internship and attract the interest of some of the top firms in my field.

Second, Tufts does make payments in lieu of taxes. In 2004, the university negotiated payment plans with Medford and Somerville whereby it would contribute about $1.75 million to each city over the subsequent ten-year period.

Third, a university's obligation is first and foremost to its students. The Boston Ave. warehouse could be tremendously beneficial as classroom or lab space. There are very, very few other nearby spaces that provide Tufts with the same potential for growth that this building does, and no others that Tufts already owns. I feel bad for the artists who currently use the space, but I'm sure they will be able to find other landlords willing to rent them studio space.

Fourth, I take strong issue with your suggestion that Tufts is "one of the biggest takers in the community." Medford and Somerville residents who live close to Tufts get access to acres of free green space, benefit from the many community service programs initiated by Tufts students, are invited to frequent guest lectures by some of the nation's top scholars (including Bill Clinton and Brian Williams), and benefit from the revenue students generate at local businesses.

john brown
Sat Apr 13 2013 13:55
There needs to be some clairfication. The building is for manufacturing and it original intent was and is such.
"Inhabitants" means residency. We do not live in the building.
When is the time for this argument if not now?
It "could house more classes" will it?
Those classes that are being taught in unconventional areas. That would seem to be poor planning attributed toTufts.
Again "Art students could retain parts of the space for any number of activites" Will they? Remember Tufts is evicting artist!
One of the ironies is, Museum school students recieve a Tufts certificate. But Tufts is taking away a place where they can work.
Student tuition is not subsidizing people. We pay rent. The students tuition however subsidizes the many acres devoted to athletics. Just a thought.
Sat Apr 13 2013 11:16
i don't think brianna is actually one of the artists in residence, just a very misinformed individual looking to make emotional personal statements.

the unintentional comedy of 'her' post is a great bonus!

Fri Apr 12 2013 16:26
They were given warning of a coming takeover years ago and were given 6 months notice to vacate when they are only required to give 30 days. Tufts didn't buy the building just so they could be landlords. There are plenty of other buildings you can move to. If you really don't want to move, make an offer for the building.
Thu Apr 11 2013 14:48
I am not surprised that a kid from Tufts would agree with evicting people from a warehouse the University owns.
My general impression of Tufts students not positive. Most seem to come from comfortable backgrounds. And, the education Tufts provides makes you feel good- but really doesnt prepare you for much. The fact that you believe struggling artist should be displaced fits my view of how I see you all.

In my view Tufts is one of the biggest takers in the community. Its time for the University to start making payments in lieu like other local colleges and universities have for many years.

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