TUSC does more with less, becomes a major presence on campus

Two students enjoy the Tuftonia's Day Carnival. (Courtesy TUSC Marketing)

Tufts University Social Collective (TUSC) is rapidly expanding its influence on campus as its events continue to grow in number and reach a wider audience of students than before.

According to Assistant Director for Campus Life John Wescott, TUSC has 105 events planned for this semester, compared to 93 events in the fall semester. Details of all these events can be found on the student organizations events calendar on the website of the Office for Campus Life (OCL).

Megan Fernandez, a member of the TUSC executive board, said that TUSC will again organize favorites such as Winter Ball and Oscars Night, and will be adding new programs to their lineup.

“We’ve done some brainstorming to create events like Paint Night, or we have some cool spins on our movie nights coming up with [TUSC] Film Series…” Fernandez, a senior,  said. “I think we’ve [not only] done more events, but we’ve also added some creative spins on some of the events we’ve already had.”

Sam Little, a member of TUSC Seniors, further explained the changes to TUSC Film Series’ lineup.

“I know that Films is really trying to reinvent itself a little bit and play more exciting movies that are maybe in theaters or recently out of theaters,” Little, a senior, said.

Little noted that the team behind TUSC‘s numerous events currently consists of 24 students across several subgroups.

TUSC breaks down into each class, and then we have Film [Series], Concert and [Entertainment]. There’s also the exec and marketing [teams],” Little, a senior, said. “Film and Concert have a larger staff of volunteers.”

TUSC has seen a number of changes over the past few years. The group was previously known as Programming Board and rebranded itself as TUSC in 2016 to increase cohesion and community between the various subgroups, according to an April 14, 2016 Daily article.

Additionally, TUSC created a marketing subgroup last summer to oversee the advertising of events and manage its presence on social media, which Fenandez said allows TUSC to build on its previous momentum of change and heighten its presence on campus this year. According to Fernandez, the marketing team has been influential in making TUSC‘s ticket-shaped logo instantly recognizable on campus.

“We created a marketing team, and I think that has been one of the biggest reasons that TUSC has become more effective because we have people interested in marketing and advertising doing our marketing and advertising,” she said. “And [previously] we had all the people that wanted to event plan doing [marketing].”

Wescott said that the attendance at TUSC events this year has been encouraging.

“Our average attendance at our events for the fall semester was 107 people, which is pretty great,” Wescott said.

Little explained that due to greater demand, tickets for certain TUSC events have sold out much quicker than anticipated.

“It’s always interesting because there are some events that we get real excited about and we think everyone’s coming [to], and then some events aren’t as strong as we expected,” he said. “And then there are other things like the Celtics game that sold out in like 11 seconds. It was absurd.”

Sophomore Clair Li attended TUSC’s first Late Night FUN event of the semester, where she made DIY bamboo plants. She felt that TUSC is engaging a wider audience of students by holding these events later at night, as the event started at 9 p.m.
“There’s definitely changes with TUSC — they hold more late night events [at the Campus Center], which is more convenient both in time and location,” Li told the Daily in an electronic message.

Casey Zorn attended the bamboo event and said the events TUSC offers have been more interesting this year.

“It’s hard for me to say whether or not I’ve noticed any real changes in TUSC programming this semester,” Zorn, a sophomore, told the Daily in an electronic message.  “I’m not sure how much I was really paying attention to what they were offering my freshman year.  What I can say is that I have certainly felt more excited and interested about events that have been offered by TUSC both last and this semester.”

Zorn said that while she appreciates TUSC’s offerings, she does not know if they are enough to improve the social scene at Tufts.

“Generally, I feel a little unsatisfied with the options Tufts is offering on campus,” she said.

Although a separate entity from OCL, TUSC is advised by two members of OCL’s professional staff, including Wescott and Caitlyn Aborn, the programming graduate intern. Little said that the appointment of Wescott in January 2017 has been critical to the positive changes in TUSC this year.

“There’s an organization shift that I’ve been really impressed with,” Little said. “We got a new director, John Wescott. Ashley Austin, who is still in the [OCL], used to be in charge of what is now TUSC … and she did a great job, too. I think by getting a fresh face in, we were able to make some changes that needed to happen, and [Wescott] has been really good about making sure that we’ve been really focusing on our branding.”

In addition to improvements in branding, Fernandez also attributed TUSC‘s recent success to changes made to its internal organization and event planning process.

“We’ve become more efficient. We started creating internal checklists for ourselves: we have this thing called an event checklist, and it basically details out what has to be done three weeks before an event, two weeks before, a week before, [and] on the day of the event,” she said. “So we’ve gotten a lot better at managing events starting off a longer way away.”

Despite organizing more events and extending its outreach on campus, TUSC is actually operating on a lower budget than it has in the past, according to Little.

“We definitely saw a reduction of the budget in the last three years,” Little said. “I think we do a pretty good job of being efficient with the funds that we have.”

Fernandez added that a budget increase could allow TUSC to hold even more events and offer more tickets for sale in future semesters.

Regardless of the budgetary constraints, Fernandez explained that TUSC‘s goal is to offer as many options for as many students, who are looking for campus events that they can go to during the weekend.

“We are here to try to serve the entire Tufts community, and so we are trying to have events that people who don’t really like going out to parties and things like that can also do,” she said. “So we’ve started doing more events on that kind of line — like we have all these ‘Late Night Fun’ events planned for the semester, which run usually either Friday or Saturday night, and it’s usually like a thing you can make or create.”

Little hopes that TUSC will continue to expand, reaching as many students as possible and unifying students of varying interests and backgrounds.

“My dream is always that it helps bring people together that otherwise wouldn’t [come together],” he said. “You go to an event for the reason that you go to an event, and someone else goes to an event for a completely different reason or the same reason, and you meet a new person, you make a new friend, and you feel a little more connected to your campus.”