The beginning of the academic year signals the close of a summer full of impactful moments, with the nation focused on the evolving COVID-19 situation and the Black Lives Matter protests that swept the nation following the death of George Floyd. The following is an overview of the news stories the Daily published this past summer.
Pre-orientation programs go virtual
In early June, the pre-orientation team announced that all of its programs would be virtual due to concerns about its ability to run its programs in person while safely social distancing. All pre-orientation programs were also offered free of cost.
Mayors of Somerville, Medford respond to the Black Lives Matter movement
In late June, the mayors of Somerville and Medford pledged changes in their administrations to address racism in their municipal departments, school systems and police forces.
One of the announcements came from Medford Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn shortly after the Medford City Council passed a resolution that declared systemic racism a health emergency. In Somerville, Mayor Joe Curtatone made a similar declaration and gave systemic racism the same health crisis status as the coronavirus pandemic.
Tufts invites students back to campus
On June 23, Tufts announced its plan for the fall semester, which included the invitation of all students back to campus. The guide released by the university detailed COVID-19 testing practices and the new hybrid academic format. It also explained the creation of residential cohorts and the installation of “The Mods,” a temporary residential space that will provide isolation housing for students who test positive for COVID-19 while on campus.
Tufts Dining worker allegedly beaten by police
Two Tufts Dining workers, Victor R. White and Alexandros Armand, who are both cooks in Carmichael Dining Center, were arrested by Lynn, Mass. police officers during the night of June 15 and the early morning of June 16. They were arrested on charges related to drinking in public, although they were outside of White’s home on his private property.
Once they arrived at the police station, White was taken to a holding cell where he claims he was beaten by an officer after he declined to remove his mask from around his neck.
Both White and Armand were charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, and White was also charged with drinking in public and assault and battery against a police officer. However, these charges were later dropped by the Essex District Attorney’s Office.
Protest in support of White, Armand
Ten days following their arrest, there was a protest in Lynn in response to the treatment of White and Armand, which was attended by many Tufts students and members of UNITE HERE Local 26, the union that represents Tufts Dining workers.
Protesters demanded that all charges against the three men be dropped and for the officer involved in the alleged beating to be charged. They also called for the establishment of a civilian review board and for the police to release surveillance camera footage from the cell in which the altercation with White allegedly occurred.
Tufts opposes ICE regulations
In early July, after the announcement from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency that international students would lose their visas if they are enrolled in exclusively online courses this fall, Tufts announced that it would file an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology filed. ICE later reversed its decision.
New Tisch College fund for COVID-19 research
The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life established an initiative called the Tisch Student COVID Response Program to provide funding to students involved in projects addressing the impacts of COVID-19 in various communities.
The idea for the program was proposed by rising senior Alex Lein in mid-March following the suspension of in-person classes. Grants have since been made to both undergraduate and graduate students engaged in self-designed and preexisting programs across the globe.
Tufts releases move-in plan
In late July, a month after the release of its initial outline for the fall, Tufts provided a move-in plan that included new arrival dates and an explanation of testing and quarantine protocols.
In this plan, the university designated students as “in-region” or “out-of-region” based on their home states. Out-of-region students moved in on Aug. 16–30 with a required quarantine, remaining until they receive three negative test results, while in-region students move in Sept. 1–13 and must quarantine until they receive one negative test.
Charges dropped against Armand, White
In early August, the Essex County District Attorney’s Office dropped all charges against White and Armand, as well as the third unaffiliated man. This decision came after a well-attended protest on June 26.
The Lynn police officer that allegedly beat White in the holding cell resigned from the force and an independent special prosecutor is investigating the claims against the officers.