Ruggiero to tackle community outreach

Tufts Community Union (TCU) President Wyatt Cadley created a new Community Outreach Liaison position in the Senate to improve relations between students living off-campus and the local community and city governments and appointed  junior Senator Stephen Ruggiero to fill the position.

The liaison will be responsible for presenting monthly reports to the TCU Senate on the state of undergraduate community relationships with Medford and Somerville. 

They will also be responsible for drafting Senate initiatives pertaining to student-community relations, according to Cadley, a senior.

“We really think having a point person who can set their own agenda and initiatives over the course of the year would be really beneficial,” he said.

Ruggiero currently represents Tufts at the Boston Intercollegiate Leadership Council, a group of student government leaders from colleges and universities in the area.

“I knew that I was the right person for the job because I had so much to say about the community relations that the TCU has with our local governments,” Ruggiero told the Daily in an email.

Cadley first proposed the idea of a Community Outreach Liaison during his campaign for president last spring.

“It was a campaign promise that as TCU President I would create a Community Outreach Liaison position who would be better able to connect with both students living off-campus, their neighbors in Medford and Somerville and Medford and Somerville city governments,” Cadley said.

The liaison will serve a year-long term beginning each May, according to Cadley. Because the position is new this year, the liaison’s term will begin this month, he added. 

Cadley believes the liaison should work closely with the Office of Community Relations to maximize the effects of both entities’ efforts in working with students and the community. 

“We have a lot of experience dealing with the cities as entities and the neighborhoods around the campus,” Director of Community Relations Barbara Rubel said. “We’d be able to help [the liaison] get the lay of the land and understand what some of the issues are, let them understand what the cities’ concerns are and introduce them to neighbors.” 

TCU Senate Vice President Meredith Goldberg believes it is important to select an upperclassman that has lived off-campus for the position.

“Having lived off-campus, you do get better exposure to the community because your direct neighbor isn’t a student in most cases,” Goldberg, a senior, said. She added, however, that she hopes the position is filled by the best candidate for the position, regardless of whether he or she has lived off-campus.

Cadley was inspired to create the position by a number of problems he saw during his three years of experience on the Senate.

“Often, situations would arise where a student voice would be necessary, but there was no one person to rise to the occasion,” he said. 

Goldberg, who lived off-campus in Medford last year and in Somerville this year, recalled incidents where a policy changed, either on- or off-campus, and there was no fellow student voice to represent the students living off-campus.

“I would only find out about changes once they’d happened,” Goldberg said, referring to the City of Medford’s raising of parking fines last year. “It wasn’t a problem per se, but I would have loved to know about it and have someone at Tufts to help communicate.”

Cadley also cited when Medford and Somerville increased noise violation fines last year as a time when a liaison could have been useful.

“There was no student voice in that process even though, for many students, they are registered residents of Medford and Somerville,” he said.

Rubel believes a student, rather than a member of the administration, would be best able to explain to students living off-campus the role they play in representing the university, improving the students’ overall experience of living off-campus.

“Students living off-campus, I believe, will react very differently to something that comes from a fellow student than something that comes from the administration,” Rubel said.

Rubel hopes the liaison will assist students in several other aspects of living off-campus as well, from improving connections with the on-campus community to helping with the apartment search process.

“[We want students to] move into apartments that are safe, that have the appropriate number of bedrooms, that are legal and where they will have the best experience,” she said.