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This is your invitation

Published: Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 08:09

Raise your hand if you know how Tufts Mock Trial performed last year. Seriously, go ahead, put your hand up; the dining hall is too crowded for anyone to notice.

When people think about Tufts University, they may consider our recent rankings in U.S. News & World Report (#28) or Forbes (#34) for top national colleges. They may recall the story of our heroic mascot, Jumbo, the very source of that now−commonplace adjective. Perhaps they may even realize that our graduates have gone on to found eBay, Blogger and Victoria's Secret. What they would fail to notice, however, are the rankings of our school teams, the heroism of our undergraduate competitors and the successes of our students who still have yet to graduate.

We walk from class to class every day without realizing the unbelievable talent of each and every student we pass. With an admissions rate of now 22 percent (congratulations, Class of 2015, on setting a new record), we can safely assume that everyone on campus has something incredible to offer.

As freshmen, we are encouraged to experience as much of it as possible. We watch student performances during Orientation Week, we give our email addresses to far too many groups at the Student Activities Fair, and we begin to find our little niche in the grand scheme of extracurricular activity on campus.

But then classes pick up, as does the snowfall. We become less inclined to go to a football game if we aren't on the team or attend a concert if we don't know the performers. Upperclassmen move off campus, farther away from the hub of activity, and before long everyone is doing their own separate thing.

When this happens, we stop paying attention to the successes of our peers. We fail to notice the girl in philosophy who's been practicing every night for her musical debut in the Balch Arena Theater, or the guy on the Joey who received the "Player of the Year" award over the weekend. We somehow miss the fact that our mock trial team came back from Nationals with a third−place trophy, or that our equestrian team took back the region for the first time in 11 years.

Sometimes, a particular success appears suddenly on our radar. We know that when Glee's "Teenage Dream" (2010) topped iTunes charts, it was the Beelzebubs singing, and we take pride in our second−place finish at the Quidditch World Cup last fall. We shouldn't need a national television show or a sport from a best−selling fantasy series to grab our attention, however. We should already be captivated by the amazing abilities of our fellow Jumbos.

In his op−ed welcoming the incoming class, Tufts Community Union President Tomas Garcia urged freshmen to "attend other clubs' events on campus." That ought to be chalked all over the place like a campaign slogan; they should be selling T−shirts. There is so much to do here and so many peers to go support that it's a wonder we find time for classwork at all.

Go on TuftsLife and look under the events for today: registration for a trip overseas, auditions for an upcoming show, 13 general interest meetings — perhaps more by the time this paper finds you. You don't need to join them all, but find the time this year to go see what they do.

Not in the theater community? Go see a show. Never heard of mock trial? Drop by the Mumbo Jumbo tournament. Not sure what people do at Hillel? Walk in and find out. Experience firsthand our teams' victories and our students' talents.

We're not a football school, but that doesn't mean we don't have a football team. It means that we also have a fencing team, a debate team and an Irish Dance team. We have comedy groups, literary magazines and culture houses.

When you hear that we have "something for everyone," it doesn't mean that we have one thing for each student; it means that what we have is there for every student. Take it.

Give it, too. Make sure your friends know how to support you, how they can come see what you do. Don't be shy; invite everyone. Make them come, make them notice. We go to school with some of the most incredible people in the country. Don't you want to see what they can do?

Raise your hand again. This time, try to get noticed. Notice others around you. They may not be raising their hands, but they certainly have something amazing to show you. If you're waiting for an invitation, here it is: You're at Tufts. Go.

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