Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

Tufts’ oldest and newest clubs foster community and friendship

Student organizations reflect on their goals, hardships, legacies and futures.

Jumbo Night Live is pictured.

Jumbo Night Live is pictured.

Tufts is known for its world-renowned research programs and professional opportunities, but outside of that, there are over 300 student organizations for students to immerse themselves in. 

In Tufts’ 170 years, there are clubs that have stood the test of time and have persisted as pillars of support on campus. One of those clubs is the Tufts Mountain Club.

TMC is one of the oldest and largest clubs on campus. Founded in 1939, TMC has continued to act as a valuable resource for those in the Tufts community wanting to explore the outdoors.

Junior Olivia Potier, the president of TMC, wishes for the club to be a space where the Tufts community can take advantage of the outdoors.

Our motto is go outside. Our goal is to get as many Tufts students doing things outside, whether that be locally or up in New Hampshire, where we have a property called The Loj,” Potier said. “Our goal is to make the outdoors accessible and inclusive for anyone in the Tufts community who wants to be part of that.”

Given TMC’s history on campus as an outdoor activity hub, it also boasts a strong foundation within the Tufts community and especially with Tufts alumni.

We have a really really strong alumni network that we lovingly refer to as ‘the sketchy alums’ who hang around, but they’re people [who] have long-lasting relationships from TMC,” Potier said. “When people come back for their alumni weekends … former TMC members always want to go up to the Loj.”

The resources left behind by former club members also remain crucial for the stability of  TMC, according to junior Vice President Larson Burak.

“We definitely are in a good situation where we can lean on the resources that people behind us have set up running the club,” Burak said. “People have compiled a bunch of resources that get passed down from each group of folks that decides they want to help run the club. I think that’s helped contribute to the longevity just in the sense that you’re not having to do all the work, you just kind of have to add to it.”

A Tufts club even older than TMC is Pen, Paint, and Pretzels, also known as 3Ps, founded in 1910. Senior Ryan Pratt, the president of 3Ps, explained how the club differentiates itself from other theater organizations on campus.

“We just focus on plays, which can attract a different crowd,” Pratt said. “American playwriting has shifted towards the 90 minute play, which hits upon our exact strengths.”

Many older clubs, including 3Ps, must be flexible and adapt to new developments throughout changes in leadership to stand the test of time. The COVID-19 pandemic was a notable adjustment that required many groups on campus to rethink how they operate.

“I’m very conscious of traditions and history … [and] the COVID-19 pandemic was super hard in terms of the way that COVID policies were applied to performance groups … [The pandemic] was kind of a wake-up call for all of us that we had to make some adjustments,” Pratt said.

3Ps being a student-run organization allows them to have more freedom in their decision-making relating to their productions.

“We have a lot of flexibility as a student group to decide what is and what isn’t working for us, and kind of execute on that in a way that, say the theater department, who has to plan stuff out years in advance, is less able to do,” Pratt said.

Pratt credits the success of 3Ps and other theater groups on campus to Tufts’ students’ diverse interests both in and outside the classroom.

“You don’t have to be a theater major to participate in student theater,” Pratt said. “I think that [a quality] of Tufts students is that we will do what we want to, and it need not be linked to our exact interests … it speaks to the breadth of intellectual pursuits of Tufts students.”

A relatively newer group on campus that highlights the many interests of Tufts students is Jumbo Night Live. JNL was founded last fall, and has quickly become a beloved student group.

Sophomore Arianna Shalhoub, the project head and founder of JNL, took inspiration from NBC’s Saturday Night Live and implemented it into Tufts through the broadcasting organization Tufts University Television.

“I got the idea for Jumbo Night Live back in high school when my film club had their own version of Saturday Night Live … I [thought] Tufts would really benefit from having sort of just a positive force on campus. I know other comedy groups do it as well, but just [having] Tufts-centered jokes and non-Tufts-centered jokes,” Shalhoub said.

However, starting a new club on campus was not easy. There were difficulties in terms of recruitment and finding a campus presence.

“I think that social media was a huge help in trying to create a platform for Jumbo Night Live and help to spread awareness about our new project,” Shalhoub said. “It was also word of mouth I think, too. I told my friends ‘Hey, I’m starting Jumbo Night Live’, and then their friends came, and so on.”

In managing JNL, Shalhoub expressed that there were unique challenges due to the club’s relatively small size and lack of pre-existing upperclassmen support as well as alumni backing.

“I think that a lot of the comedy clubs that are existing have a framework that they build off of … they’ll look up to the upperclassmen and what their experiences were like making a show or making a performance happen,” Shalhoub said.

Finding out what methods were successful and unsuccessful in production was a key barrier to creating a consistent schedule for JNL, but trial and error alongside group efforts proved fruitful for the club.

“I think that figuring out the timing of everything and how much we can do in one semester was definitely a challenge,” Shalhoub said. “But I think we did a good job. And I think that now we have one year of experience under our belt, so we’ll know how to make Jumbo Night Live even better.”

Creating a new student organization on campus requires taking a step into uncharted territory but through consistent effort, creativity and flexibility, one can create an organization that enriches Tufts and its community.

“If you have an idea, go for it. There’s no harm in trying … it can be a difficult process starting a new club without any framework.” Shalhoub said. “But I think definitely, looking to your friends for support, looking to people who have similar interests for support and just building it up together through friendships and through community, as cliché as that might sound, it definitely really worked for me and for the members of Jumbo Night Live.”