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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, February 25, 2024

What does school spirit at Tufts look like?

An exploration into Tufts clubs, organizations and student life.

Tufts Cheer pictured during a game.

Tufts cheerleading is pictured during a game.

During this year’s rainy Homecoming, groups of students, parents and alumni took refuge under their umbrellas to cheer on the Tufts football team. Despite the spirited efforts of both Tufts Pep Band and Tufts cheerleading, there was a lack of student turnout. However, this does not mean that school spirit is absent at Tufts.

Justin Millette, a junior and the president of the Tufts Pep Band, argued that Tufts students have school spirit and pride, even if they don’t show it through the traditional outlet of sports.

“If you define school spirit by knowing all the sports [events] … then no, we don’t [have school spirit] … But if you mean caring about being on Tufts’ campus and the experience … Tufts does have [that],” Millette said.

The Pep Band plays for home football games in the fall and for basketball, hockey and lacrosse games in the spring. The group has also made multiple on-campus appearances in the past at events including Tuftonia’s Day and the Tufts Cheerleading Showcase.

Em Buyea, a junior who runs the Tufts Pep Band’s social media accounts, compared the student crowd at this year’s Homecoming game to that of last year’s.

“This year … everyone was there the whole time. But at the crowd’s peak, it wasn’t as big as it was last year,” Buyea said.

Buyea noted that night games tend to bring in more people, and Tufts football traditionally has a high parent and alumni turnout.

Buyea added that at the football games, Tufts Pep Band and Tufts cheerleading will sometimes collaborate to foster school spirit and excitement.

Maddie Cortesi, a junior and the head captain and treasurer of Tufts cheerleading, explained the role of the cheer team.

“Our whole job is crowd engagement,” Cortesi said. “We have gotten so much wonderful positive feedback recently and even just this past Homecoming game … it’s just so wonderful and motivating and it’s why we do what we do.”

The team cheers for both the football and basketball home games, and they have their own competition season in the spring.

Cortesi said that Tufts cheerleading has expanded its campus presence and number of team members.

“It’s been really exciting to get bigger and try to put ourselves out there more as a team,” Cortesi said. “We’re going to our campus appearance, events, we’re trying to get more involved, [and] I would hope we’re sort of becoming more known by the student body.”

Cortesi added that Tufts students show their school spirit through their involvement on campus.

“I think the fact that people are so involved in so many different things is a testament to how much involvement they're putting into their community, with sports, through arts [and] through academics,” Cortesi said. “So even if there’s 26 people in the crowd at a football game, that’s what school spirit is to those people.”

Another club on campus that is a source of student pride is the Tufts Burlesque Troupe.

Maya Lahiri, a sophomore and Burlesque DEI committee member, said that Tufts Burlesque is about embracing body positivity, body neutrality and gender inclusivity.

“We do have a lot of queer members — people with different gender identities, different sexualities. Everyone is allowed to join, and we also do have identity-based dances,” Lahiri said. “I think it really does bring in the diversity of Tufts, and not just in terms of inclusivity but also [in] the way Tufts is quirky.”

As part of the DEI committee, Lahiri said that the committee visits every dance to ensure that the environment is a safe one where everyone feels welcome. 

“Consent is a really big thing in our rehearsals, too. It’s about not just feeling okay, but also feeling good with yourself,” Lahiri said.

The club has gained so much popularity in recent years that — for those who do get to sign up in time — dancers are only assigned to one dance. Due to the high demand for Burlesque tickets — which often sell out in minutes — this semester the group has expanded to offer two nights of performances for their show.

“It’s more about confidence now than just performance. It’s about seeing not just how the dancers are dancing, but seeing how their performance is encouraged by their confidence,” Lahiri said.

Lahiri added that Burlesque brings both the performers and the audience together.

“I think that [Burlesque] is something that brings people together, whether you’re cheering your friends on, whether you’re actually on stage or you’re doing the lights for it … we’re all just having a good time together,” Lahiri said.

Another student organization that brings the Tufts community together is the Tufts University Social Collective. TUSC is a student group responsible for planning events for the entire Tufts undergraduate student body.

Davis Kupera-Peers, an executive coordinator for TUSC, said that TUSC is there to engage students’ school spirit and provide a fun space for students, while also focusing on harm reduction.

TUSC is also the most funded student club on campus, and is responsible for many campus events including the Homecoming Carnival, Fall Fest, Tuftonia’s Day and Spring Fling.

“We try to have a good balance of keeping traditions like Sophomore Halfway There and Tuftonia’s Day, but then also adding some new, fun events that can keep people engaged and interested in the things we have to offer,” she said.

Kupera-Peers shared that TUSC is trying to move towards a more school-wide spirit approach.

"[We want to] have a space [where] people are excited to be students at Tufts, excited to participate in the school wide events and be … involved in the community,” Kupera-Peers said.

School spirit can take on many forms. From student organizations to sports games, there are many different ways that Tufts students can answer the question of what it means to be a Jumbo.