I met Robert Joseph the fall of my freshman year. In both senses of the word, Robert is one of the best friends I have ever had – we are very close, but he is also one of the most loyal, genuine people I have ever met. I ache at the thought of taking him to Dewick because I know he will run into 20 students. He’ll know all of their first and last names, majors and absolutely must have a conversation to ask how they’re doing and how classes are going. And it’s effortless. Robert doesn’t work at memorizing facts and placing names with faces to advance himself in any way – he comes from a place of honest care and concern 100 percent of the time.
But Robert Joseph, above all, is passionate about passion. If a student or group approaches him about an idea enthusiastically, it’s as if their enthusiasm melts into him, and he is immediately working on funding or policy or whatever it is that he can help them with. If you come to Rojo with excitement, he will not simply meet you halfway – he will take what you bring and blow it up exponentially. He trusts and believes in the students of this university. He believes in their ideas, their capabilities, their fights. He understands that even when a struggle is not pertinent to him, if students are fighting, it must be an idea worth fighting for, and he joins in support. Robert is an exemplary human being. He is kind and open-minded and extremely hard working. Of course, like everyone, he has weaknesses with which I am quite familiar, though I see none that would compromise his ability to be an outstanding president. Shortly before writing this, I sat down to talk privately with him about the campaign. My only thought the entire time was that if I could just videotape everything he was saying and broadcast it, this election would be won. If you talk to him for three minutes, and see the energy in his eyes, and feel the commitment behind his words, you will understand. If you are unsure, I urge you to seek him out and start a short conversation about anything you’d like to see happen on this campus. You will walk away feeling heard, appreciated and respected every time.
Robert has proven his concern for others time and again during his five semesters on the TCU Senate. Robert is a natural facilitator, and his experiences as a senator and as the Senate Parliamentarian have made him well acquainted with both the Senate and Tufts administration. When members of the Tufts Garden Club proposed the creation of an on-campus greenhouse, Robert quickly and efficiently translated the idea into a Senate resolution, which he sponsored this past semester. Not only did he represent the needs of a specific student group through a resolution, but he has followed through and has organized and participated in meetings with the club and members of the Tufts administration in hopes of making the project a reality.
Since his freshman year, he has constantly used his position to advocate for the needs of a variety of groups at Tufts, helping them navigate an oftentimes confusing system. As Parliamentarian his sophomore year, he worked to ensure the smooth introduction of a Women’s Center Community Representative, who has helped ensure the consistent inclusion of their voice on Senate. Essentially, the big conversations about campus issues are held in Senate, and Robert actively works toward creating an inclusive dialogue that intentionally creates space for historically marginalized communities. He maintained that effort again this year when he advocated for and voted in favor of an International Center Community Representative. As president, Robert hopes to continue building an inclusive campus community, especially for groups whose unique experiences are still underrepresented, such as first-generation college students and transfer students.
As Tufts orients itself toward global citizenship and acting as a community partner, its students need a leader who understands Tufts’ role in the city. Robert does. As a freshman, he co-founded Urban Policy, Planning and Prosperity, an undergraduate student organization focusing on urban development. As a sophomore, he worked actively to develop university-community ties through his appointment as undergraduate representative to the Tufts Community Research Center, an organization promoting student and faculty research and collaboration with local community members. Robert was also fortunate to be selected as a Tufts Summer Scholar, for which he did research in the political science department on sustainability policies in large American cities. This year, Robert has worked as a key member of the Tufts Transit Coalition, and has advocated for their mission on Senate by sponsoring a resolution in favor of a University Pass (U-Pass) Program with the MBTA.
If elected TCU president, I know that Robert will not only continue to advocate for the various causes and ideas students bring to him, but he will also be able to use this new position to better represent their needs. Whether you’re facing problems with the administration and need help proposing solutions, or you’re discovering you can’t access all the resources you need to thrive here, I believe that Rojo is the best answer. All Robert Joseph wants is to see his peers succeed, and all he wants to do is play a role in that process. He always devotes himself to improving the lives of others through his personal urban planning studies, Senate activity and extracurricular commitment. I endorse Rojo because I know he doesn’t just want the fun or important parts of being president – he wants the hard stuff and the intricate stuff and the stuff no one else takes the time to do. And I know he will revel in it, because that’s just who he is.
Alli Barkin is a junior majoring in clinical psychology. She can be reached at Alexandra.Barkin@tufts.edu.