The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life has established a new undergraduate advisory group, made up of six students from various class years, majors and backgrounds. The students were selected in part because of their involvement in one or more of the college’s programs, and will meet with Tisch College leadership, including Dean of Tisch College Dayna Cunningham.
Cunningham said that as Tisch College leadership planned their extensive programming and class schedule, they began to feel like they needed to hear more from the students.
“The main goal of this advisory group is for us to have a window into students’ experience,” Cunningham said.
Members of the advisory board will provide feedback on both Tisch College programs and classes through informal conversations with other students and by bringing their own experiences to the table.
Cunningham believes that the feedback Tisch College leadership will receive from the group will “help to shape [their] planning in ways that are more responsive to students.”
“When you sit in the offices … [and do] all the things that we do to keep Tisch College running, we sometimes lose touch with the direct experience of students," Cunningham said.
Cunningham was clear that the students would serve as providers of feedback, but would not act as a decision making body.
“We’re in the middle of a strategic planning process, and we are rethinking a lot of the different parts of Tisch,” she said. “The students should have a voice in that.”
Waideen Wright is a senior on the advisory group who has spent her Tufts career being involved in Tisch College programming, participating in the first Tufts Civic Semester in Peru, organizing the Black Women’s Empowerment Conference with another student as part of her participation in the Tufts Scholars Program and leading a Leadership For Social Change group for high school students with Tisch College over the summer.
“I’ve had so many experiences through Tisch that were amazing, but obviously it’s not a perfect picture,” Wright said. “Wherever I can use my experience to enrich people who come after me, I will take that opportunity to shed light on my experiences.”
Topics of conversation at the advisory group’s meetings include Tisch College’s Solomont Speaker Series, which has hosted speakers such as Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg and U.S. Senator Tim Scott in the past year.
Wright noted that faculty are always present at meetings to discuss College plans with students.
“It’s never just a meeting with just students,” Wright said.
According to Wright, the council will meet four times this year — two meetings per semester — with one focused on the reception to the Solomont Speaker Series, having already taken place.
In the first meeting, Wright said she contributed less than others due to her lack of involvement with the speaker series but plans to offer more advice about studying abroad under Tisch College, which offers Civic Semesters abroad, trips to Talloires in France, leadership roles for students at Tisch College and courses in civic studies.
Another student on the council, sophomore Tatum Schutt, told the Daily in an email that she would bring her experience with the Tisch College’s Prison Initiative to the table and encouraged students to get involved with the College.
“Tisch holds immense resources and is the site of a lot of creative thought,” Schutt added. “Any students interested in putting their learning to practice should reach out.”
Wright was excited at the prospect of engaging more students with Tisch College.
“That’s what I really like about Tisch,” Wright said. “There [are] a ton of ways to get involved. You can be like me, like a really active member in Tisch, or you can just be on the outskirts, where you join in when you see fit.”