News roundup: top headlines of last year

The Tufts community experienced an eventful year, full of logistical, administrative and social changes. The following is a wrap-up of some of the biggest stories of 2015-2016, leading up to the start of the fall semester.

September

Jumbos arrived back on the Hill to find that the affectionately-termed Joey shuttle traveling between campus and Davis Square was to be replaced by a shuttle service from A & A Metro Transportation. 

Tufts Student Services also welcomed students by overhauling its Student Life website for the new academic year, reorganizing the interior space in Dowling Hall and restructuring its staff and staff functions. 

The Class of 2019 entered the semester with 1,360 students, setting a university record for yield on acceptance. The high yield, along with other factors, contributed to a housing shortage problem, which put multiple students into overflow housing situations. This and other issues surrounding university housing have been topics of discussion for the Residential Strategies Working Group throughout the year.

The Film and Media Studies (FMS) program was created, replacing the former Communications and Media Studies (CMS) program. The major and minor, designed to appeal to a wide array of interests, were seen as probable areas of interest among prospective students.

Members of the Tufts Labor Coalition (TLC) held a Labor Day rally in their continued fight against janitorial cuts. Their dispute began when layoffs and changes in staff hours and areas to be cleaned were announced during the fall 2014 semester.

October

Major declaration statistics revealed that the computer science major unseated international relations (IR) as the most popular major on campus, a position IR previously held for over a decade.

Comedian Bill Cosby was stripped of his honorary Doctor of Arts degree amid mounting evidence of his alleged sexual assaults. The university’s decision to revoke his honors was matched by similar reactions from Goucher College, Brown University, Fordham University, Marquette University, Baylor University and Wilkes University. 

“Taste of Israel,” an Israeli culture and food event held by Tufts Friends of Israel, was disrupted by members of Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine. The protest was another incident following long-standing campus tensions over the issues.

November

A food systems and nutrition minor was created by the environmental studies department. The new minor is scheduled to be offered to students this fall. 

In the middle of the month, approximately 200 Tufts students marched from the Medford campus to Porter Square to protest for the demands of black students. The protest was dedicated to “the three percent,” a figure referring to the presence of black students at several Boston-area universities. Protesters’ demands for the university included an increase in the number of black students admitted, increased funding for the Africana Center and an increase in the number of black professors hired.

December

Tufts announced the acquisition of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA), to take place in June, in an effort to make permanent the close, long-standing relationship between the schools. Former Academic Dean Nancy Bauer was later appointed to serve as dean of the SMFA. 

The Memorial Steps re-opened after six months of construction. The renovations were aimed at repairing the steps from the 2014-2015 winter season and better preparing them to handle Boston winters.

January

The brothers of the former Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp) chapter established the independent and local fraternity Pi Rho Omega (Pi Rho) following the chapter’s disaffiliation from the national SigEp fraternity in December.

February

Tufts faculty voted in favor of changing the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day on the university’s academic calendars, following a similar Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate resolution passed on Dec. 6. Tufts joins institutions such as such as Brown University, Cornell University and the University of California, Berkeley in celebrating the rededicated holiday. 

Carmichael Dining Center opened for late night dining on Fridays and Saturdays as a trial run for the remainder of the semester. This program served as an expansion of the Late Night Dining program offered at the Commons Marketplace. 

The Tufts community was alerted to several cases of “catfishing” from people claiming to be Tufts students. Later in the month, students were informed of “concerning incidents” involving spiked or drugged drinks. Dean of Student Affairs Mary Pat McMahon said that the two issues were worrisome but not necessarily connected.

On Feb. 26, multiple emails were sent informing students of a female student awaking to a man in her room and another of a person putting an arm into an occupied women’s shower. Two months later, a female student called the Tufts University Police Department (TUPD) after waking up to an unknown man in her room, stroking her arm. All of these instances have been under TUPD investigation, according to the university’s emails.

March

A mumps outbreak passing through Boston-area schools spread to Tufts, infecting at least five students.

April

Members of the TCU Senate began a new push for the creation an on-campus pub. The TCU senators working on the project have determined that Brown and Brew may serve as an economically-viable location for a pub in the future.

Anderson Cooper’s visit to campus to speak at the Edward R. Murrow Forum on Issues in Journalism was in high demand, with tickets to the event fully claimed within an hour.

The administration released the expected tuition fee for the 2016-2017 academic year, which saw a 3.6 percent increase from the year before and the lowest increase in four years. The news of the increase caused many students to demand an explanation for the tuition hikes in the form of a protest.

The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service was renamed the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life to better reflect the functions of the college, following a $15 million donation from Jonathan M. Tisch.

TLC continued its efforts to support janitorial staff and construction workers hired by Tufts by staging a protest during Jumbo Days. In response, the administration cancelled the speech of University President Anthony Monaco, fearing it would encourage further protest and distract from the event.

Senior Gauri Seth was the first woman to be elected to the position of TCU President since 2002. Seth defeated her opponent, senior Ryan Johnson, with 75 percent of the vote over Johnson’s 23 percent.

May

Indie-pop duo Matt and Kim headlined the annual Spring Fling concert, which was held despite driving rain. Other performers included indie-pop artist BØRNS and rapper Shaggy.

Finals week was thrown into early disarray on May 9, after authorities responding to a car fire discovered a handwritten bomb threat outside of Health Service. While no bombs were reported to be found, the incident temporarily shut down all campus activity and forced many final exams to be rescheduled or canceled. 

Simpsons voice actor and Tufts graduate Hank Azaria (LA ’87) delivered the 2016 Commencement address.

June, July & August 

Workers took the place of students on the Academic Quad this summer, as construction continued on the Central Energy Plant (CEP) located next to Dowling Hall. Much of the space between Braker and Eaton Halls was torn up to tie in steam lines for the CEP and replace old water service lines. A brick pedestrian walkway was also installed connecting Braker Hall, Eaton Hall, Lincoln-Filene Center, Paige Hall and Miner Hall. Construction continued on the Science and Engineering Complex, which is located behind Anderson and Robinson Halls and is scheduled to open in 2017. The renovation of Metcalf Hall was undertaken and completed in time for the new school year. The project reappointed brick and mortar on the building and all new windows.

Tufts Technology Services (TTS) prepared for the return of students by updating wifi in residence halls on the Medford/Somerville campus. TTS is also orchestrating a $10 printing credit for each student, enabling printing from laptops and adding more printing locations throughout campus. Additionally, diagnostic and repair fees will be subsidized for students using Dell, Lenovo and Apple devices under warranty.

As Sherman Teichman rounded out three decades as director of the Institute of Global Leadership, Ulrich Schlie was chosen to replace him as interim director. Schlie is a historian who is currently holding the chair of diplomacy at Andrássy University in Budapest.

Professor Vickie Sullivan of the political science department will be the IR program’s interim director for the 2016-2017 school year, as Professor Kelly Greenhill prepares for a three-year term as IR director beginning September 2017.

Rocco DiRico has been appointed co-director of community relations, joining current director Barbara Rubel. DiRico, a Medford native, will oversee relationships with Medford, the Fenway and Mission Hill.

Negotiations over janitors’ contracts with Tufts began Thursday, Aug. 18. It is the latest chapter of a saga that began early in the fall semester of 2014 with reports from TLC of impending layoffs and hour changes.

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