News roundup: top stories from last year

The 2016-2017 academic year was eventful at Tufts University, with everything from tension on campus in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election to shakeups in the Greek life system. The following is a rundown of the biggest stories on the Hill from last year.

September

Tufts Student Services released the Tufts Mobile app in collaboration with Tufts Technology Services (TTS) and the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate. The app provides students with features such as a university shuttle tracker and a laundry machine monitoring system.

South Hall was renamed Harleston Hall, honoring former Professor of Psychology Bernard HarlestonTufts’ first African-American tenure-track faculty member and a former dean of the faculty of Arts and Sciences.

October

Almost half the members of Tufts’ Alpha Omicron Pi (AOII) Delta chapter dropped from the sorority, after AOII’s international organization demurred to offer a bid to a transgender woman.

Tufts announced that it will change its one course, one credit system to the widely-used semester-hour unit system, otherwise known as the credit-hour system, by fall 2018

November

After Donald Trump’s unexpected election as the 45th President of the United States, Tufts’ political and activist student groups became energized. The election was followed by an anti-Trump rally in Boston and a post-election gathering on campus. 

Tufts janitors voted to accept a new four-year-long contract on Nov. 3. The contract guarantees lower health costs, a $1.80 hourly raise by Jan. 1, 2020 and higher pensions

Hundreds of students staged a walkout and gathered in front of Olin Center on Nov. 16, demanding that the university declare itself a “sanctuary campus,” which would protect and support undocumented Tufts students and community members in these spaces. University President Anthony Monaco also attended the gathering and reassured attendees of the university’s commitment to protect and support undocumented students, though he did not officially designate Tufts a sanctuary campus.

The Tufts Observer published an article detailing hazing and sexual assault at a Tufts fraternity in January 2015. The piece sparked calls for the abolition of Greek life at Tufts. Many public discussions and debates on the subject continued throughout the year.

December

Following the Observer article and a subsequent wave of misconduct reports, recruitment for all Greek organizations, excluding organizations in the Multicultural Greek Council, was suspended for the spring semester. Additionally, fraternities and sororities voluntarily suspended all social events, a decision affirmed by the university.

ResLife announced that the resident assistant (RA) position will be replaced with two new roles: first-year assistant (FYA) and community development assistant (CDA).

January

In response to the Greek life controversy and the suspension of social eventsMonaco appointed a Student Life Review Committee composed of faculty, students, staff, parents, alumni and representatives from the Medford and Somerville communities to holistically examine undergraduate student life at Tufts. 

A Boston Globe analysis revealed that the number of reported forcible sexual offenses on the Medford/Somerville campus had risen from 14 in 2014 to 25 in 2015, the most recent year for which data was available. Increased reporting was cited as the reason for this change.

February

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker visited Tufts to give a talk on civic engagement and public policy on Feb. 24. The event was disrupted by protests and walkouts.

The linguistics minor was reinstated after a year-long hold.

Four Greek life organizations regained the ability to recruit new members, though fraternities and sororities on cease-and-desist orders were not allowed to recruit in the spring. Later in the month, the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Panhellenic Council (Panhel) lifted their voluntary holds on social events for eligible Greek life organizations.

Medford City Council unanimously passed the University and College Accountability ordinance on Feb. 28, requiring Tufts to provide an anonymous list of the addresses of students living off campus in Medford.

March

In a TCU Senate resolution, Students Advocating for Students claimed that Tufts’ Title IX procedures are unfair towards alleged perpetrators of sexual misconduct. Senators decisively voted down the resolution, with many warning that it could threaten sexual misconduct survivors.

School officials announced that tuition and fees will increase by 3.6 percent for the 2017–2018 academic year, which is the same rate of increase as the year prior. Members of Tufts Student Action criticized the planned increase, arguing that the university has given insufficient justification for continual increases in the cost of a Tufts education.

April

Tufts received a record number of 21,101 applications and saw a slight increase in the overall acceptance rate from last year’s 14.3 percent to 14.8 percent.

In an uncontested election, senior Benya Kraus was elected as TCU president for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Tufts joined 30 other universities to file a joint amicus brief against Trump’s revised travel ban enacted on March 31.

T-Pain unexpectedly canceled his Spring Fling appearance eight days before the event, citing his son’s birthday.

Linda Furgala, an employee at Carmichael Dining Center who faced sudden dismissal from her job on April 19, returned to work after less than a week following an outpouring of student support.

TCU Senate passed a controversial resolution calling for divestment from four companies allegedly involved in the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories on April 9. Shortly after the resolution’s passage, Tufts announced that it would not divest from those companies, and raised concern that the resolution was passed at a Senate meeting immediately before Passover.

R&B artist Tinashe headlined the annual Spring Fling concert. Other performers included up-and-coming rapper Aminé and producer Metro Boomin.

May

The Peace and Justice Studies (PJS) Program avoided cancellation, but saw a planned reorganization and the departure of Assistant Director Dale Bryan.

A group called TuftsLeaks published confidential university documents online, including salary data for faculty, staff and students.

Tufts graduate students employed by the School of Arts and Sciences voted to unionize and join Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local #509. Tufts is now one of the few private universities where graduate students have successfully unionized. 

Screenwriter and “Black-ish,” (2014-present) creator Kenya Barris delivered the 2017 Commencement address.

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