Programming Board rebrands itself as as ‘Social Collective’

Tufts Programming Board, which has rebranded itself as the Tufts Social Collective, poses for a portrait outside of the Mayer Campus Center. From left to right are its members Eric Osherow (LA '19), Ben Averill (LA '17), Ashley Austin (Assistant Director for Campus Life), Samantha Berg (LA '17), and Sarah Gordon (LA '16). Alex Knapp / The Tufts Daily

The Tufts University Social Collective (TUSC), formerly known as Tufts Programming Board, has been involved in a year-long rebranding initiative beginning with a name change to underscore its commitment to promoting a strong sense of community at Tufts through social activities. TUSC, which is a student-run umbrella organization, is responsible for planning events such as Fall Gala and Spring Fling.

The shift for the group is meant to help create a more cohesive body among the seven member groups, which include TUSC Freshman, TUSC Sophomores, TUSC Juniors, TUSC Seniors, TUSC Concert, TUSC Entertainment and TUSC Film, according to TUSC Co-Chairs Sarah Gordon and Matt Marber, who are both seniors.

“The purpose of TUSC is to promote a sense of community at Tufts by planning exciting, engaging and enjoyable events for the campus,” according to the collective’s website.

A committee of students — comprised of Gordon, marketing director of the TUSC Seniors Jason Brillon, juniors Samantha Berg and Ben Averill and first-year Eric Osherow — met once a week throughout the past academic year to discuss and implement the changes to TUSC.

“[The] slow-burning initiative [is] prompted by the growing confusion from students as to what it was the organization did as a whole and its distinction from [the] Senate,Gordon said.

TUSC Senior Class Council Secretary Daniella DiPaola said the name change was also a practical move to avoid the ambiguity of the name Programming Board. She explained that in the past, many students joined Programming Board with the intent to join a club focused on programing and coding in the field of computer science.

“We noticed that a lot of times, the name Programming Board didn’t say what we actually did,” DiPaola, a senior, said. “People [thought] we were a computer club or asked ‘what are you programming?’ To change our name to a social collective, we wanted to make sure people know that we’re here to plan social events and to bring the class together through these events.”

According to Brillon, the rebranding brings with it a range of logistical issues that include changing the logo and informing the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate and Judiciary about constitutional alterations.

One of the larger logistical changes will be in how members are selected, Marber said. Instead of elections, which were used to select members in the past, TUSC will now issue written applications for membership. Application decisions will be made by the executive board, which consists of Marber, Gordon, Communications Chair Kathryn Gibb and Assistant Director for Campus Life Ashley Austin, who serves as the TUSC faculty advisor. 

Marber said that this switch will allow greater insight into the candidates’ credentials.

“By having these applications, we can learn about people’s skills and past experiences, whether it be related to event planning or not, because then we can mold groups with a balanced group of individuals and skills to make something a little more cohesive,” he said.

Austin added that the application process allows those who review applications to understand the applicants more deeply than an election process, where candidates did not really always have the opportunity to understand what they would be doing on Programming Board. Applications will also allow TUSC to bring a wider array of students onto the team, Austin said.

“We wanted to add diversity in terms of what our members look like, what they do on campus, what they’re involved with, what their majors are, etc.,” she said.

DiPaola explained that moving away from the election process, which has the tendency to become a popularity contest among the student body, toward the written applications also allows those with genuine interest in organizing large and small-scale social events to come forward without as much hesitation.

Brillon said TUSC would have to inform the TCU Elections Commission (ECOM) of the shift from elections to applications. He noted that TUSC will also have to inform TCU of changes in its constitution in order to update any bylaws but did not note any significant changes that the group hopes to make within its bylaws.

Gordon indicated that the name change is indicative of larger internal changes that the organization hopes to achieve.

“I think [TUSC] will get a ton of interest right at the beginning [of the next school year] … If we just make it clear that it’s not at all student government [and] it’s just planning cool events, we’ll get the right people from the get-go,” Gordon said.

DiPaola agreed, saying that these changes can help expand recognition of the group in the future.

“Every group is going to have one cohesive logo that we all work off of, which is great because I think that the more name recognition we can get out there through the big-scale events, the better our events will be in the future and the more well-attended they’ll be,” she said.