Generations of Tufts history captured in the Daily Archives

The Daily is constitutionally mandated to be Tufts’ newspaper of record, striving to capture Tufts’ history for future generations to look upon. From overhauls of academic requirements to a mass resignation in student government, the following is a selection of developments from Tufts’ history — documented in thousands of issues, written by thousands of student-journalists. 

Academics and student culture

Now ubiquitous among the academic experiences of undergraduate students in the School of Arts & Sciences, the World Civilization requirement was only implemented in 1992. Faculty voted three years later to expand the number of courses which would satisfy the newest requirement, which joined the other requirements that still remain for liberal arts students. Students and faculty were divided over the new requirement; the policy was approved by a slim margin, with 58 faculty members in favor, 41 opposed and four abstaining.

Academic minors — a standard option for an undergraduate’s educational career today — were only adopted in full force at Tufts in 1992. Though the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate long advocated for the change, many professors expressed reservations that it would enable “pure credentialing.”

The requirement that students in the School of Arts & Sciences declare their major before registering for classes in their junior year was suddenly introduced in March 1995, during that year’s “majors week.” The change was made three weeks before registration for fall courses, and only one faculty member voted against the requirement at the time. Before the change, liberal arts students were not bound to declare their major by a certain time.

Class registration went online for the first time when students registered for classes for the fall semester of 2000. The platform, called the Student Services Implementation Project, replaced the in-person long registration lines in Eaton Hall.

The TCU, which now mostly deals with funding requests and resolutions, was a truly dramatic spectacle in the 1999–2000 academic year, which saw the resignation of 11 senators. The Daily’s Matthew Kane reported on Feb. 10, 2000 ahead of the TCU Senate’s third meeting that semester: “Thus far this semester, the Senate has not had a general meeting without at least one member resigning.” These resignations apparently occurred for various reasons, chief among which were constraints placed on senators by the TCU Judiciary and the then-named Elections Board.

The Judiciary also took a much more active role in student clubs and life, frequently de-recognizing clubs — a power that the Judiciary still holds but rarely employs. One such club was the Tufts Christian Fellowship (TFC), which was immediately de-recognized and defunded for blocking a gay student from leadership in the club in April 2000. TCF would come back, but history would repeat itself 12 years later when InterVarsity, the group funding TCF, would ultimately be pushed off campus.

The last 20 years of Tufts’ history covered by the Daily have seen a major expansion of majors and minors; for example, the creation of the Middle Eastern studies major in 2000, the addition of Asian American studies courses leading to the launching of a minor in 2012, as well as the creation of the Consortium of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora in 2014, which became a department by 2019

Housing 

For the majority of the Daily’s history, a staple of housing that is often taken for granted,co-ed dorms, didn’t exist. In the early 2000s, several proposals were raised and struck down by the administration, which was headed by then University President John DiBiaggio. On Jan. 27, 2000, Daily reporters called a move towards a co-ed housing proposal “progressive.” This proposal, first floated by the then-named Tufts Transgendered, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Collective would become successful years later after being struck down by DiBiaggio and other members of the administration. 

In as early as 1988, the Daily documented a shortfall in beds available for undergraduates on campus. The trend, however, was not consistent; in 1988, 40 students were left without housing, but 120 extra beds were available the following year. The Housing Office, as it was then known, was beset by logistical and administrative woes. Errors in the 1982 housing lottery, for example, prompted it to be rescheduled that year. In 1991, the housing lottery was moved to an all-digital system for the first time, in an effort to mitigate allegations of student fraud. 

By the early 2000s, Tufts’ now-chronic housing shortages began to cement ahead of the construction of Sophia Gordon Hall (SoGo). Around the late 90s, the state of Tufts’ housing fluctuated between surpluses and shortages. But Tufts’ increasingly large applicant pools allowed for a higher matriculation rate even as the acceptance rate decreased — Tufts’ student body increased faster than Tufts could house it. The completion of SoGo in 2006 would allay the crisis, but only temporarily.

Around the same time, Tufts piloted what has now become the norm for those entering Tufts: first-year only dorms. Tilton Hall was the first such dorm, but more would follow. It is interesting to note that dorms such as Stratton Hall, now considered a mid-level sophomore residence hall, was around this time coveted by juniors and seniors before the majority of Tufts juniors and seniors were expected to move off-campus. 

Another tidbit from the archives on housing: the Office of Residential Life imposed fines on the entire residence hall when Wren Hall’s pinball machine and ping pong table — both of which Wren Hall had at the time — were vandalized. In one of the incidents, the pinball machine was thrown off of the bridge to Wren Hall.

Hate crimes

Despite recent attention paid to hate crimes at Tufts due to three incidents on campus last semester, bigotry is by no means new to Tufts’ campus. The Daily documented multiple antisemitic incidents in the 1992-93 academic year alone, two of which occurred in Haskell Hall. 

In 1994, while the Granoff Family Hillel Center was still being constructed, a bomb exploded in the early morning at the construction site. The Daily reported at the time that the explosive was likely a makeshift device, such as a Molotov cocktail. There was no damage to the building and no one was injured.

In the late 1990s, three more incidents occurred: as many as 12 swastikas were found in Houston Hall, proselytizing fliers were found in Jewish books in Tisch Library and two students were hospitalized after being assaulted in a hate crime on Emory Street in Medford.

The 2000s also saw several hate crimes; however, many of these Daily issues are not fully available in Tufts’ Digital Archives. Their descriptions, however, note that students called on administrators to properly address these crimes. The question of administrative response is an ongoing discussion to this year, but the Tufts community currently awaits hearing more about University President Anthony Monaco’s new Bias Response Team initiative, announced last semester.


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