The Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate on Feb. 27 published the inaugural issue of the monthly TCU Newsletter sent in an email to the entire undergraduate student body. The newsletter is intended to serve as a means of providing students with relevant information about upcoming events and initiatives within the Tufts community.
The newsletter included information on recent Senate activities and initiatives, a “Know Your Rights” section about university policies and information about major campus events and opportunities.
Future issues of the newsletter will be sent only to students who sign up via a survey linked in the email, according to TCU Vice President Wyatt Cadley.
The senators who worked on the newsletter felt that it filled a niche that was not being fully addressed by other sources like TuftsLife, Facebook or campus publications, because it updated the student body on the Senate’s activities with the ultimate aim of increasing transparency, Cadley, a junior, said.
“A student government should have the power to communicate with its constituents,” Cadley said. “We want to explain to people ourselves how we perceive our roles and our projects.”
“This is something for Senate to put their stamp on,” Director of the Office for Campus Life (OCL) Joe Golia said. “I would hope in the future it’s more about their initiatives and the things they’re working on, and then with some opportunities for others to advertise.”
The newsletter provides a highlighted digest of upcoming events and opportunities, as opposed to the large amount of information available on social media websites like TuftsLife and Facebook.
“[The newsletter is] a forum to distribute information with an emphasis that’s not coming from the original source,” Cadley said.
The Senate aimed to highlight high-profile campus events, policies and opportunities, such as the sexual assault policy reforms and the new emphasis on athletics, according to Cadley.
“We wanted to build more partnerships with other organizations and not have it just be about Senate,” Cadley said. “It’s really made by students, for students.”
One of the Senate’s goals when it published the newsletter was to reach a wider audience, including off-campus students who would otherwise be unaware of the Senate’s decisions, according to TCU webmaster Brian Pilchik.
“[We hope to engage] people who are off campus, and maybe aren’t running in to the posters and the literature as often,” Pilchik said.
“Any way to get information out to students certainly helps,” Golia said. “It’s one of our biggest struggles here because every student is different in how they want information and what they do with the information.”
Golia supported the initiative logistically and administratively by sending out the finalized newsletter to the student body and by providing content information to writers.
The Senate used the feedback from the fall Senate survey to determine how often students would want to receive the email and the means by which they wanted to receive it, according to Cadley. The responses showed that students displayed a significant interest in receiving a monthly issue rather than a weekly issue and favored an opt-in process that would preclude them from being automatically registered on the mailing list, Cadley said.
At least 30 students had opted in within 10 minutes of receiving the initial newsletter, according to Pilchik.
Pilchik was responsible for designing the layout of the newsletter once the information was compiled, as well as organizing the opt-in system.
The idea of creating a TCU newsletter had been discussed periodically for several years. A Senate newsletter was discussed but eventually abandoned. The Senate this academic year published minutes from their meetings in advertisements in the Daily, but this initiative was deemed to be prohibitively expensive and ineffective in terms of highlighting relevant information. Ultimately, the Senate decided to create an all-encompassing TCU newsletter, according to Cadley.
“A lot of the work last year and the year before that was conceptually setting the framework of what we wanted to do,” Cadley said.
The Senate received input and support from Golia, Dean of Student Affairs Bruce Reitman and members of the Senate’s Executive Board.
Although the inaugural newsletter’s material came from the OCL and Programming Board, Cadley anticipates that student groups will submit information in the future.