As Thanksgiving approaches on an annual basis, I naturally tend to find myself reflecting on everything I have to be grateful for. Last year, during my pandemic-laden freshman experience, I spent my first college Thanksgiving away from home. Although I was with friends I had met just a few weeks before, we shared a sense of home among each other. From making cranberry sauce in a noodle pot to baking a pie in the Carmichael Hall kitchen and commiserating over the sad state of the university-issued turkey, we made the best out of a less-than-ideal situation.
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Growing up as a twin, often the first question my brother, Matt, and I would be asked is, “Are you fraternal or identical?” Logically, as biologically boy-girl twins, the answer is fraternal. Nonetheless, as we matured, we learned to answer this question with more understanding, recognizing that not everyone could relate to the experience of being born just six minutes apart.
A few days ago, I awoke to a crisp Medford fall morning and heard a rumble from the corner of my dorm room; there’s nothing quite like the annual activation of the heating system to bombard you with thoughts of the upcoming winter. As a native Floridian with only one New England winter under my belt, the anticipation of the coming season is daunting. Even with a closet shoved full of sweaters, jackets, hats, scarves and boots, I know that the changing seasons will inevitably bring a lack of sunshine, more time spent indoors and bone-chilling walks up and down the hill. Although we didn’t have to spend this Halloween with snowfall, as we did last semester, impending below-freezing days loom in our near future.
When coming to Tufts, I never envisioned life as a student-athlete. I spent my first year here on the treadmill masked in the Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center, and I never imagined myself sporting team-labeled apparel. Yet, earlier this semester, after seeing an advertisement for walk-on women’s rowing tryouts, I decided to step completely out of my comfort zone and show up in pursuit of a position as a coxswain.
In a world with hurricanes of Herculean force, pandemics that have jolted the globe and politics arguably more divisive than ever before, we as global citizens are forced to tackle life in our own unique way. Along each of our individual journeys we are accompanied by vastly different sets of environmental factors creating a society that lights up each of our senses, with no two people absorbing sights, sounds and smells in exactly the same way. When facing the respective adversities that life sends us, it is quite simple to get lost in the big picture, stuck in the clouds. Yet, what if we were to take just a moment to get lost in the minutia, immersed in the details that create the diversity that colors our landscape’s vibrant hues?
Today was my first day back in in-person classes. After grabbing a mid-morning iced coffee at The Sink, I sat down in a big, comfortable blue armchair in the Mayer Campus Center. As I bent back the pages of Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence” (1920), I was transported to 19th-century New York City. Despite my fascination with her commentary on the complex inner workings of the city’s upper echelon, I couldn’t help but notice a tour group out of the corner of my eye. The spirited guide took a big step up onto a bench, and I had a moment of realization: I really am a Tufts student.
Content warning: This column discusses mass shootings and gun violence.
Recent years have seen intensified outcry and advocacy against the conditions within detention centers at the U.S.-Mexico border, horrifically exhibited in widely-circulated images of children lying under foil blankets in uninhabitable environments, separated from their parents.While this inhumane practice was one of the driving factors in the election of President Joe Biden, these camps remain in operation under the current administration.
Current and past college students in the United States understand the pressure of standardized testing all too well. Students have been taking the SAT and the ACT, two of the most common college entrance exams, since the early to mid 20th century. These respective examinations were created with the intent of predicting students’ success in higher education. This practice has endured, and the number of students taking these exams has skyrocketed over subsequent years. Despite the pandemic, almost 2.2 million students took the SAT and around 1.7 million students took the ACT in 2020.
In September 2020, I published the first iteration of my column, Sobremesa.I advocated for an approach that tackled the root causes of the injustices in the U.S. criminal justice system. Today, I am calling for the same action with a more targeted approach: we must build the initial blocks for substantive change in the U.S. education system.
Although many of the effects of overcrowding in schools are not currently visible due to virtual modalities, over enrollment in American public schools is a pressing problem that has been facing our nation for several decades. Overcrowding occurs when a school has more students enrolled than the building was designed to accommodate. This stems from an increased population in the school district, often driven by a multitude of factors, including greater levels of development. Teacher shortages, in addition to lack of funding for education, are also driving forces for overfilled public schools. According to a 1999 report, 22% of schools are overenrolled to some degree, with 8% of schools surpassing their capacity by over 25%. Yet over enrollment is not evenly distributed among public schools. Rather, the percent of minority enrollment in a school is strongly correlated with rates of over enrollment.
We have now passed the one-year mark since the majority of American public schools shut their doors and flipped to virtual formats due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While some students have been fortunate enough to return to in-person formats, there is still a substantial number of students who remain at home.
It has been almost 70 years since the Supreme Court made its precedent-setting decision to desegregate schools in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case. While our nation has made immense progress from our former legal structures that openly endorsed blatantly segregated schools, we still have a long way to go. Approximately 6% of students currently in the American public education system are enrolled in gifted programs. The aforementioned group of students is overwhelmingly composed of white and Asian students, while many incredibly intelligent Black and Hispanic students are left without the same chances for academic advancement. For example, in New York City, almost three-fourths of students in gifted programs are white or Asian, despite the fact that Black and Hispanic students make up 65% of the school system.
In the same way that looking into the past of the police system in the United States can help Americans decipher the roots of many of today’s problems with policing,digging into the history of the U.S. public education system illuminates the core of many of our present day injustices.In 1635, the first free American public school opened its doors, and over time, an increasing number of schools followed suit.The federal Department of Education was not established until 1867, and the Common Core, an effort to standardize education and a far cry from the religious curriculum that dominated the American school system centuries before, was not adopted until 2009. Today there are over 130,000 public schools nationwide that serve over 50 million children.
Although the constitutionality of this event has been contested many times in the past, in our modern public school system, every morning, students nationwide recite the Pledge of Allegiance.This event is then followed by a school day hallmarked with reading, writing, science, math, recess, P.E., lunch and more. Yet, in today’s political climate, it is time we ask ourselves if this is enough. Are we preparing Americans to engage civically? Can we uphold democracy without understanding its true essence and nuances?
The New York Times recently released aquiz that allows Americans to calculate their approximate position in line to access the coronavirus vaccine. While it's exciting to think about a possible end to this pandemic, we must dig deeper into the nuances of equity in vaccination distribution.
Lines of feminism can be drawn through history forcenturies past. Fromproperty rights, tosuffrage andTitle IX, the landscape of our gendered society hastransformed immensely. As we now prepare to usher a woman into the seat of vice president, it is time to both marvel at progress and look toward areas where work still needs to be done.
Immigration has always been fundamental to the growth of the United States, yet the rights of U.S. immigrants continue to be challenged. Since his 2016 presidential election campaign, President Donald Trump has advocated for “building the wall.”Now, in a time of changing presidential administrations, the protection of the rights of undocumented immigrants has been thrown into question.
The United States approaches an unprecedented winter — one ridden with a ruthless pandemic. According to a 2019 government estimate, almost200,000 people sleep on the streets of our nation each night. With highunemployment rates, risinghousing costs and widespreadfood insecurity, the perfect storm is brewing for surging homelessness rates. However, our nation currently does not have the proper infrastructure to respond to this growing number of individuals in desperate need of shelter. Rather, many of our cities are ridden with anti-homeless architecture.
When an adolescent turns 18 in the United States, they are granted the ability to serve on a jury, open a bank account and, most notably, to vote. Historically, this wasn't always the case.On July 5, 1971, the voter age in the United States was officially lowered from 21 to 18 after teenagers were outraged that they could be sent to fight in the Vietnam War but had no say in determining their political leaders. These threads of American advocacy toward voting rights are present throughout American history, from the fight for the 15th amendment to the women’s suffrage movement.