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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, June 24, 2024

Student groups and locals meet on the Hill for food and festivities on Community Day

Students strolling through the academic quad yesterday might have had to dodge crawling toddlers, but lemonade and candied apples awaited those who were able to navigate the crowds.

Tufts hosted its sixth annual Community Day, bringing student organizations and volunteers together with local groups and residents.

Tufts' Director of Community Relations Barbara Rubel said Community Day connects residents of Medford and Somerville with a university that can often be a mystery to even some of its closest neighbors.

"I think that we're smack dab in these two pretty densely developed urban communities, yet a lot of people have never been on the Tufts campus," Rubel said. "This is a way for Tufts to open its doors to its local communities so that people are able to say with pride that Tufts is in their neighborhood."

Student groups like the Jackson Jills, BlackOut, B.E.A.T.S., Traveling Treasure Trunk and La Salsa performed. Over 60 local and student organizations set up tables.

Kids also participated in cookie decorating, arts and crafts activities and a "stop, drop and roll" exercise in the Somerville Police Department's smokehouse, a trailer filled with imitation smoke to simulate a fire. The Tufts and Medford Police Departments also set up shop on the quad.

Somerville Alderman Jack Connolly advocated for many years for a community day at Tufts. When Lawrence Bacow took over as university president, he pushed to make this a reality.

Since then, Community Day has grown both in size and cost. Over 1,000 people came out for yesterday's $40,000 production, a significant growth from the 100 participants that came six years ago, Rubel said.

"It keeps on growing every year," she said in an interview at the event. "Last year, there were 1,100 people. This year, we planned on feeding 1,400 people and all of the food is gone."

This year, Tufts emphasized educational activities at Community Day. "We're constantly trying to find ways to make sure that people are getting more of a complete picture of the university, which includes bringing in educational components of the university," Rubel said. "Along with the activities, we're trying to show people about the learning that is going on here."

Representatives from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine came to talk to dog owners about pet care. Two biology department groups demonstrated beekeeping methods and showcased tadpoles.

Rubel added that more student organizations had become involved in Community Day this year than in years past.

"The Senate is much more interested in connecting with the community and the Greek system is making a huge effort to be seen in the community," she said.

Senior Damaris Graves, a Community Day organizer, said that she was thankful for the Inter-Greek Council's (IGC) help this year.

"There are around 100 student volunteers here and 40 of them are part of the IGC," Graves said. "They've been a huge help."

Sigma Phi Epsilon brother Andreas Vindenes attended his first Community Day this year and said it would not be his last. He heard about the event at a Sigma Epsilon executive board meeting.

"We have around 20 people from SigEp here today, which is about half of our brotherhood," said Vindenes, a junior. "Along with it being fun,it's important to show the community that Greek life is more than about partying on Saturday night."

Medford resident Valerie David enjoyed connecting with other locals and community organizations yesterday. David set up a table at the event for Teens Against Drinking and Drugs.

"Being here has let me find out about what's going on in Medford, about things that I wouldn't have known about," David said. She added that Community Day had put her in touch with representatives from other local groups. "If I hadn't come here today, I wouldn't have made connections with people in those organizations," she said.

David mentioned that she wished she saw more local Community Day advertisements in the Medford area.

Tufts advertised for Community Day through several media, including local television stations, newspapers and mailings to over 8,000 households, according to Rubel. In addition, both the Somerville and Medford Mayors' Offices put up banners in their communities, she said.

Somerville resident Cindy Person, attending her second Community Day, heard about the event last year from an advertisement she picked up at a store in Somerville.

"I came out earlier this year because I was curious to see what else was being offered that I missed last year," Person said. She added that the only other times she goes to Tufts are for art openings at the Aidekman Arts Center.

Junior Kate Selden attended her first Community Day to table for the club National Student Partnerships. She was surprised by the variety of organizations that tabled at the event.

"I thought that [Community Day] was mostly made up of Tufts groups, but it's really great that so many different organizations have come out to demonstrate what they do," Selden said.

The calm, colorful, fall day helped bring out Community Day's festive atmosphere.

"If you walk around and talk to people, you see that they're having a good time and are taking the time to share with each other about the programs they've learned about," Rubel said. "People are really relaxed and seem to be enjoying themselves."


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