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Where you read it first | Monday, June 24, 2024

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The Setonian
News

Some say television is more to blame than Web for short attention spans

    After the publication of Nicholas Carr's "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" in The Atlantic and Motoko Rich's "Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?" in The New York Times, Americans are beginning to question whether the Web is harming their ability to stay focused in today's digital world.     Many specialists contend that switching from one Internet program to another over prolonged time periods weakens a user's ability to become immersed in activities that require greater time and attention, such as reading.     "It makes it harder even when we're offline to read books, as skimming takes over and displaces our modes of reading," Carr wrote in his Atlantic article. "The way we gather information is by jumping around, and that's governed not only by Google, but by the whole economic structure of the Internet."     But some may argue that other factors — like the media-focused nature of today's culture and television — are to blame for our nation's inability to focus.     Andrew Call, a market researcher at Zoom Marketing, a California-based consulting firm for technology product and services companies, says that excessive media consumption may injure society in the long run.     "I personally think our society's nature to simplify and shorten the processing of information has been of detriment to our attention spans," he said. "A lot of times, getting information and facts in such a quick manner causes us to miss all of the nuanced subtleties."     But this inability to process information for an extended time period may not be so much a result of the Internet, but rather of television programs from the 1990s, Call said.     "Such [a] phenomenon is often referred to as part of the ‘MTV' generation: since MTV was one of the first networks to pick up on this trend [of short cuts and choppy, unfocused material]," Call said.     "But a lot of times, I think the worst case of this kind of behavior is with the news," he continued. "These days, people have to be constantly entertained."     Take Fox News, for example. They've got runners on the bottom of the screen, graphics thrown at you every two seconds, all in addition to their regularly programmed news."     In fact, some believe that the structure of modern television may be more to blame for higher rates of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in recent years than the Internet.     "Some people have hypothesized that an overexposure to television will cause ADHD-like tendencies among audiences," said John Howe, co-founder of the Newton-based Adult ADHD Anonymous Support Group said. "In some ways, I suspect there's truth to that thesis, because the very short visual splices found in television programming can increase a person's tendency towards ADHD."     But the Internet may not have the same effect as television, Howe said. In fact, he suggests that the Web may be of significant benefit to users who do exhibit ADHD tendencies.     "The Internet supports an ADHD way of thinking very nicely, because with the Internet, the user is able to access it at his or her own rate," Howe said. "When a person with ADHD watches television, however, their ability to process information is controlled by the speed of the editing.     "Sometimes a hypnotic effect can arise from such quick pacing," he continued. "Television and movies 15 years ago had much longer sequencing and slower editing that helped to get the attention mechanism used to absorbing longer material. In real life, you don't have jump cuts forced upon you, framing your nervous system for a pacing like that."     In his work with people afflicted with ADHD over the past 13 years, Howe said that he has rarely seen a single case in which a person's ADHD tendencies were exacerbated by Internet use.     "I've found that few folks with ADHD have reported detrimental effects on their attention spans from Internet use," he said. "In fact, a lot of times the Web can be a great resource for us because it allows us to chase information at our own rate."


The Setonian
News

Douglas murder and embezzlement scandal drew interest from media

This is the second in a two-part series in which the Daily looks back 25 years at a case in which a faculty member at the Tufts Medical School embezzled thousands of dollars from the university to fund his ongoing affair with a prostitute and then murdered her.


The Setonian
News

Beyond Boundaries was leader among capital campaigns in April

    In April, Tufts outpaced the 26 other billion-dollar universities engaged in capital campaigns, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.     Tufts' campaign, Beyond Boundaries, experienced a $131.8-million vault in April.     According to Director of Central Development Programs Chris Simoneau, this jump was due "almost entirely" to the late Frank Doble's (E '11) $136-million donation, which the university received in April.     The campaign's monthly capital gains average between $5 million and $10 million. After April's surge, donations in recent months have remained strong and steady, Simoneau said. The campaign, which aims to earn $1.2 billion by 2011, surpassed $900 million this summer.     "We're really hitting our stride," said Christine Sanni, director of advancement for communications and donor relations.     Doble designated Tufts and Lesley University as primary beneficiaries of two trusts he set up as part of his estate plan before passing away in 1969. The trusts were dissolved upon the recent sale of his company, Doble Engineering, and their assets were distributed equally to the two universities. The gift is the largest in Tufts' history.     Doble was a member of the Charles Tufts Society, an organization of alumni who include Tufts in their estate plans. The Society currently has close to 900 members, according to Sanni.     Membership has increased, on average, by about 10 people per month since Beyond Boundaries went public in 2006, according to Rebecca Scott, director of Tufts' Gift Planning Office.     Scott described the link between the Charles Tufts Society and the Beyond Boundaries campaign as a "chicken and egg" scenario. As contributions to the campaign increase, more members are added to the society. Likewise, as membership to the Society increases, additional campaign contributions are made.     Since the campaign's inception, the Gift Planning Office has made an effort to increase publicity about the importance of donations to the university and has used Periscope, Tufts' faculty circulation, and Tufts Magazine to let people know more about the office.     Scott said that administrators have also been more proactive in asking donors who have included Tufts in their estate plans or wills to inform the university.     "We want to thank them properly and show them that it's a great way to contribute to the Beyond Boundaries campaign and the general success of the campaign," she said.     Beyond Boundaries was publicly announced in November 2006, although a quiet phase of fundraising began in July 2002. The campaign's primary goal is to increase financial aid to undergraduates and establish a need-blind admissions policy.     While Doble's gift makes the 2011 deadline easier to reach, Simoneau said that administrators had expected to receive some standout gifts during the campaign.     "Campaigns are built with the expectation that there will be extraordinarily generous donors," Simoneau said. "Large gifts create a sense of momentum at the university and inspire others to look deeper."     Sanni said that most universities do not see much alumni support, and she believes Tufts is within the range of reasonable alumni giving for most institutions.     "We're in the middle of the pack," she said. But according to U.S.News & World Report's 2009 rankings of American universities, Tufts places 40th among national research universities with a 23 percent alumni-giving rate. This rank is considerably lower than Tufts' overall 28th ranking on the list of universities.     Close to 92,000 donors have contributed to the campaign. Though a majority of them are alumni, many have come from corporations, foundations and individuals connected in some way to Tufts, Sanni said.     "It's amazing to see people who have the means show how meaningful Tufts was to them," Sanni said. "I think we'll meet the goal. If we do better than the goal, we'll be ecstatic."     Sarah Butrymowicz contributed reporting to this article.


The Setonian
News

Morris calls for action on water supply

Dr. Robert Morris decried America's water treatment system and urged students to help the developing world gain access to clean water in a Cohen Auditorium talk Tuesday night.


The Setonian
News

Sykes, two others resign from TCU Senate

In a reversal, former Tufts Com-munity Union (TCU) presidential candidate Elton Sykes resigned from the Senate last month. He is one of three seniors to resign from the body over the summer, and now the Senate is scrambling to replace them.


The Setonian
News

Civic research center comes to Tisch College

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), a research organization that studies the activism and civic involvement of young people, moved this summer to Tufts' Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service from the University of Maryland.




The Setonian
News

Campus Comment | Student leaders sound off on life after embezzlement

Charges that former employees Jodie Nealley and Ray Rodriguez embezzled nearly $1 million from Tufts hit everybody at the university hard, but few campus figures were as heavily affected as Tufts Community Union (TCU) senators. They have spent months securing funds generated by the Student Activities Fee, reworking their financial accounts, and getting to know the Office for Campus Life's new director, Joe Golia. And that's all as they deal with trust issues stemming from the alleged betrayal by Nealley, who served as their advisor. In this Campus Comment, senators talk about the transition and their thoughts on Golia:


The Setonian
News

Library updates Web site, adds more Word

Tisch Library now has Microsoft Office on every reference-area computer, a revamped Web site and stronger wireless Internet capabilities, thanks to a series of summer updates.


The Setonian
News

Nealley, Rodriguez case is not first of its kind at Tufts

This is the first in a two-part series in which the Daily looks back 25 years at a case in which a faculty member at the Tufts Medical School embezzled thousands of dollars from the university to fund his ongoing affair with a prostitute and then murdered her.




The Setonian
News

Rapist gave victim his number, officials say

Alleged rapist Michael Mahoney is being held without bail after a Somerville court deemed him potentially hazardous to society at a dangerousness hearing on July 11. But if law enforcement officials are correct, Mahoney's mixed-up judgment might pose as much of a threat to himself as his aggression does to women. According to officials, the victim of a July 6 rape near Tufts convinced Mahoney, her alleged attacker, to give her his phone number, which the police used to hunt him down the next day, the Boston Herald reports. Spokesperson Jessica Venezia of Middlesex County District Attorney Gerry Leone's office declined to comment on the Herald's report, citing legal restrictions. "There's a motion to impound all of the clerk's files," she told the Daily. "It's not public information, which is usually the case in sexual assault trials, so I unfortunately can't confirm that." Mahoney has been charged with three counts of aggravated rape and kidnapping, the Herald reports. The rape in question occurred near the intersection of College Avenue and Dearborn Road, just steps from many students' houses. Somerville Police Captain Paul Upton noted in an interview with the Daily last week that a separate assault, which occurred by Powder House Circle on June 28, possessed "distinct similarities" to the July 6 rape. "They were close in time - they were only eight days apart - they occurred at approximately the same time of day, they occurred in the same vicinity and there are similarities in the suspects' descriptions," Upton said. He would not confirm that the Somerville Police considered Mahoney a suspect in the June 28 incident, but he said charges in that case were forthcoming.


The Setonian
News

Graduating seniors explore alternative paths

After graduation, many students enter into a frenzy of concern regarding how they are going to cope with living in the "real world." The mad postgraduate scramble leaves many seeking further education in graduate school or entering the workforce. But while many Tufts grads move on to make it big in the business world or pursue lofty careers as doctors or lawyers, some choose to follow less conventional paths after leaving the Hill. Rocking the boat Graduating senior and English major Ezra Furman decided that, rather than continue his education or enter the conventional professional world, he wants to pursue his music career. Furman's band, Ezra Furman and the Harpoons, plans to go on tour this summer after Commencement. "We're trying to wrangle going on tour with various bands that are more famous than we are," Furman said. Furman and his band, which also includes seniors Jahn Sood, Job Mukkada and Adam Abrutyn, are unsure of their exact plans. But they do know that they want to continue to play music and, hopefully, make a career out of it. "We've got big dreams," Furman said. "And the plan is to chase them around and be fearless about it." The Harpoons are already off to a good start: They've signed with eminent indie label Minty Fresh Records, and their last album, "Banging Down the Doors" (2007), received rave reviews from critics as diverse as Paste Magazine and National Public Radio. Furman said that although he realizes it is difficult to make it as a musician, he is in no rush to pursue a backup career. "For now, I'm going all out with music," Furman said. "There's a good chance that I'll have to work in a record store or something like that in between [going on tour]." According to Furman, many college students decide to do what's safest rather than pursue their dreams because they're afraid to take the risk. "People get scared that they're not going to have a good thing to do or make enough money, and then they get scared and they don't try things that they actually want to do," Furman said. "There are people who are just abandoning dreams of theirs that could have worked out if they'd just stuck to [them] … it seems obvious that that is a road to spiritual ruin."


The Setonian
News

Profile: Meredith Vieira

Meredith Vieira (J '75) will return to the Hill today to deliver the Commencement address to the Class of 2008. Vieira has won nine Emmy Awards throughout her career in journalism, and she currently co-anchors NBC's "The Today Show" and hosts ABC's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" As if nine golden statuettes aren't enough, Vieira will receive an honorary doctorate today alongside five other distinguished Tuftonians. Vieira was born in Providence, R.I. to Portuguese-American parents in 1953. She grew up as the youngest of four siblings. After graduating magna cum laude from Tufts with a bachelor's degree in English, Vieira began what would be a long career in journalism. She worked as a news announcer for the radio station WORC in Worcester before moving on to a variety of news stations in Providence, New York and Chicago. She then signed on to CBS' "West 57th" and "60 Minutes." But when Vieira's manager refused to let her work part-time in order to take care of her children, she left the show, sparking a controversy over whether women can truly balance a career and a family. Vieira picked up her career with "CBS Morning News." Next, Vieira served as chief correspondent for ABC's "Turning Point" and became a moderator on "The View" before making her way to her present broadcast positions. Aside from her distinguished journalistic background, Vieira has been deeply involved in a variety of philanthropic organizations and charitable foundations. She presently resides in Westchester County, N.Y. with her three children and husband, CBS journalist Richard Cohen.


The Setonian
News

With Tufts Medical Center name change, MBTA may run into significant expenses

Despite plans to extend the T's Green Line to Tufts' campus by 2014, the next T stop to bear the university's name will actually be on the Orange Line. The station in question is not new at all, but its name is: After the Tufts-New England Medical Center (NEMC) dropped the "New England" from its title in March, the current "New England Medical Center" T stop will soon change its name to reflect this, switching to the "Tufts Medical Center" station. The hospital made the moniker switch in order to highlight the "exceptional partnership [that the hospital] has with Tufts University," the hospital's President and CEO Ellen Zane told the Daily in March. Although the process of renaming the station may seem simple, the name change will come at a heavy cost to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), according to Daniel Grabauskas, the MBTA's general manager. In addition to changing all references to the NEMC name on the walls of the station, every "spider," or system, map in the entire T system will have to be reprinted to reflect the hospital's new name. "There are over 600 spider maps in the system," Grabauskas told the Daily. These maps can be found in nearly every T stop and on trains. Furthermore, there are numerous tourist maps in the Boston area that now display the incorrect station name. Grabauskas said that the process of changing the name of the station is not only costly; it also takes time. "We will eventually recognize the name change, [but] it's a process that takes a year," he said. Although he did not have an exact cost estimate, he said the price is "pretty significant." The medical center, however, is planning to help the MBTA finance the project. "We are going to be working with the MBTA ... we are aware that we both need to partner on [the project]," said Julie Jette, a spokesperson for the hospital. "We appreciate that this is a process that the MBTA will have to go through."


The Setonian
News

Renowned Middle East expert at Fletcher named Carnegie Scholar

Leila Fawaz, the Issam M. Fares Professor of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean Studies, director of the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies and a professor of history and diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, received a Carnegie Scholar award in April for her work in spreading understanding of the Islamic world. The prize, which includes money for research, is presented by the Carnegie Corporation, which launched the award in order to spotlight "renowned scholars who will contribute to our understanding of Islam," according to Provost Jamshed Bharucha, who nominated Fawaz for the honor. After her nomination, Fawaz submitted a project proposal and was ultimately chosen as a recipient of the award and grant. Fawaz's proposed project focuses on research around "The Experience of War: Muslims in the Middle East and South Asia, 1914-1920." Fawaz's grant was one of 20 given out this year and will be worth up to $100,000, according to the Cambridge Chronicle. "I focus on World War I in the Middle East and South Asia because the Great War was a global war involving several continents and a multiplicity of people who seemed to have little in common and, yet, dealt with challenges in recognizable ways," Fawaz said in an e-mail to the Daily. She is currently traveling in Europe and Istanbul. "I am humbled and honored by this great gift from the Carnegie Corporation," Fawaz said. "I feel immense gratitude." In order to pursue this project, she predicted she will take time off from teaching but continue directing the Fares Center. "The Fletcher School is proud to have Dr. Fawaz among its faculty ranks and we congratulate Leila on her recent distinction as a Carnegie Scholar," Fletcher School Dean Stephen Bosworth said in an e-mail. Most of the grant money awarded to her by the Carnegie Corporation will finance her research and allow her to travel to archives so that she can access original sources. She will translate and extract data from these sources for her book.


The Setonian
News

Former Jumbos look back

Most outgoing Jumbos will go on to lead careers in a wide array of fields in all corners of the world; many will become lawyers, doctors or politicians or spend time living abroad. But a few might find that their careers land them right back on the Hill. Currently, there are a large number of alumni working for the university, most of whom initially worked for other organizations. By getting involved in alumni events and groups, these former students remained close to the school and eventually accepted job opportunities here. Such Jumbos have the unique position of being able to witness the changing landscape of Tufts and to compare their own college experiences to the lives of current students. Usha Sellers (J '58), who graduated from Tufts in 1958 and is now the program director for the alumni relations department, remembers the more formal manner in which students dressed when she lived on the Hill. "[The] mode of campus student dress then was what is today known as 'smart casual,'" Sellers said in an e-mail. "Men students wore chinos, collared shirts and white bucks [shoes]; women wore collared blouses, skirts and 'bobby socks' and shoes similar to white bucks. Similarly, faculty dress was suits, jackets and ties." Sellers came to Tufts from India in 1953 when she was only 16 years old. At the time, there were fewer international students, and many Jumbos commuted to campus from neighboring towns. Despite her international background, Sellers said she felt welcome at Tufts. "All of the above was new for me, and thus part of my favorite memories," Sellers said. "I also remember my classmates being very friendly and open and inviting me to their homes over spring recess and other holidays as gestures of American friendship." Years ago, Tufts was virtually split into two campuses, with the men living uphill and the women - who were technically students of Jackson College - living downhill. Save for particularly cold days, when they were permitted to wear pants, women were required to wear skirts when attending class on the Hill.


The Setonian
News

JJA asks Tufts to intervene

The Jumbo Janitor Alliance (JJA) presented University President Lawrence Bacow with a petition late last month urging the administration to push for better working conditions for Tufts' custodians, but the student group says it is still waiting to see action from university officials. Over 1,300 people signed the petition, which came as the janitors entered into contract renegotiations with their employer, OneSource/ABM Industries Inc., according to junior and JJA co-chair Kevin Dillon. The JJA is a fledgling organization aimed at supporting Tufts' janitors, and it is looking to this summer's contract negotiations as an opportunity to garner an increase in janitors' wages and an allocation of more than the three sick days per year custodians are currently allowed. While the administration has stated that it supports the janitors, Dillon said that the JJA is looking for more concrete action from Tufts during the contract negotiations. "What the Jumbo Janitor Alliance is advocating is that the administration put leverage on the contractor [OneSource/ABM]," said freshman Will Merrow, a member of the JJA who helped to compile the petition. According to Vice President of Operations John Roberto, however, the administration will stay out of the negotiations. "The university is not directly involved as an active participant in the negotiations ... they are between the union and ABM/OneSource," Roberto said. "All of us need to respect the collective bargaining process." The JJA feels that, as OneSource/ABM's client, the administration could influence how the company treats its workers. "Tufts usually says that they are not responsible for what happens to the janitors because that is ABM's realm, [but] if Tufts was vocal enough, ABM would change conditions for their workers," Dillon said. "It's a 'the customer is always right' mentality." The current contract between the janitors' union and OneSource/ABM is a four-year agreement that ends this summer.


The Setonian
News

2007 brings spike in MBTA riders

The renaming of the New England Medical Center (NEMC) station on the Orange Line will catch the eye of innumerable T riders, as the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) saw a dramatic increase in ridership last year.According to statistics released recently by the MBTA, 353,132,600 passengers ...


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