In this space, I have previously shared some of my frustrations with the new No Name Café. It has recently been brought to my attention that a group of Tufts students is up in arms about an aspect of No Name Café that I failed to mention.
The group is Fletcher students, and their complaint is that undergraduates have the gall to enter their vaunted dining facility, causing them to have to wait for their smoothies and overpriced burritos. While the simple response to this complaint is “Don’t get mad at the undergrads, get mad at the management,” a far more complex issue is raised. Simply, Fletcher students look at their association with Tufts as a burden. They want nothing to do with us: not to see us, not to hear us, and certainly not to have to share their facilities with us.
When I first got to Tufts, I had not heard of the Fletcher School at all. This may come as a shock to Fletcher students, but in most of the world, save diplomatic circles, Tufts has a more recognizable name than Fletcher does. However, the Fletcher School fails to even acknowledge the Tufts name in its logo and most of its promotional materials. In fact, the only time I recall seeing the Tufts name displayed prominently alongside the Fletcher logo, it was followed by the line “Jointly administered with Harvard University.”
Now, I don’t care what technical affiliation Fletcher has with Harvard. Fletcher is part of Tufts. There is no way to argue around that. The only access Fletcher students have to Harvard is via cross-registration and use of some of their libraries. Compare that to their use of Tufts services and facilities.
Fletcher students can be found riding the Joey, living in University housing, eating in our dining facilities, using our athletic and fitness facilities, and attending campus events, in addition to complete access to Tufts courses and libraries, plus the Boston Library Consortium, a network of a dozen or so other university library systems that Harvard does not belong to. Fletcher students also have access to student employment positions across campus and serve as teaching assistants in several undergraduate courses. If Fletcher were not a part of Tufts, these resources would not be available. Fletcher students need to recognize this despite their desire to be independent from Tufts. C’mon folks, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
During my first year here, I saw Fletcher as hallowed ground. With visiting statesmen and diplomats galore, and a “world-renowned” diplomacy program, surely the student body must be remarkable. However, upon interacting with Fletcher students in campus activities, classes, and in everyday life, I must say, I’m not impressed.
Sure, there are some very bright students at Fletcher. But Tufts’ undergraduate population isn’t short on intelligence either. The intellectual climate of life on the rest of campus is far more diverse, with students pursuing fields other than diplomacy and international relations. Fletcher students could benefit from engaging in this environment. On a purely academic level, it is obvious how a Fletcher education could be strengthened by partnerships with other disciplines. But the social level is important, too.
There are other graduate students on this campus, who are also largely snubbed by Fletcher students. Fletcher students form their own separate student organizations and rarely intermingle with these other graduates, who are a great potential source of friends and, perhaps, romantic partners. Even undergraduates could serve a social purpose for Fletcher students though, as Fletcher students a few years out of college have more in common with Tufts seniors than some of the older Fletcherites.
The main ‘advantage’ Fletcher students have over Tufts undergrads is experience, mainly a function of age. I believe that Tufts graduates in ten or so years will have just as interesting experiences as Fletcher students do. Many Fletcher students have returned to academia after a stint in the Peace Corps, or something like it. Interesting, because for the past two years, Tufts has had more students enter the Peace Corps than any other school in its size category.
Perhaps instead of using their experiences to separate themselves from the rest of the campus, Fletcher students can share those experiences and talk to undergrads. Maybe our commitment to public service can serve as an inspiration. Maybe our relative youth and vitality can serve as a source of fun. Maybe our intelligent minds can serve to engage them in thought.
I think the biggest reason why I have little respect for Fletcher students is because many of them are simply not nice. Nowhere else on campus can you pass a crowd with no one even acknowledging your presence. But beyond ignoring us “outsiders,” Fletcher students have been known to spew hateful language in reference to undergraduates in their publications and email listservs. If this is representative of Fletcher students, they are a superficial, sexually harassing bunch. If this is representative of future diplomats, the world is in for some interesting foreign conflicts.
Over the past few years, I have constantly heard administration discuss the need for greater interaction between the undergraduate and graduate schools. Unfortunately, plans have almost exclusively focused on our health sciences schools. For example, the Summer Scholars program places undergraduates in all of Tufts’ divisions, except Fletcher.
With the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy relocated to the Health Sciences Campus, the Fletcher School is the only graduate-only program left on the hill. On a campus where international relations is the largest undergraduate major, the faculty and students of Fletcher both have an obligation to leave the Cabot Center and interact with the greater University community. Chances are they’ll probably get something out of it, too. When it comes down to it, we’re all Jumbos.
Adam Pulver is a junior majoring in political science and community health. He can be reached at [email protected]
This article has been amended from its original version. Several sentences were removed because they posited an argument that was based on a factual inaccuracy.