Before the inarguable ubiquity of the internet, things were done a bit differently — clothes were tried on and bought in stores, final papers were submitted in plastic report covers and graded with a red pen and communication, in all of its ways, shapes and forms, took place in person, in print or not at all.
But this is the twenty-first century, and in the same way that technology and the internet have taught us to expect fulfillment of our needs and desires at the click of a button, they have created an expectation for instantaneous communication and a nearly limitless network of people who we have the ability to reach with our words. The central-campus bulletin boards of our parents’ university days are no longer able to do the trick of connecting five thousand Tufts students and hundreds of clubs. In lieu of this antiquated forum, TuftsLife was created.
The website, which has historically been funded by the TCU Senate, was designed for the express purpose of serving as a virtual bulletin board on which students and organizations could post about campus events and individual needs. For a few years, TuftsLife successfully served as a central calendar for all happenings on campus and helped connect students with sublets, textbook sales and shared rides. Currently, however, the website is more reminiscent of a ghost town occupied only by a few straggling posts for psychology studies and the occasional job opening in Tufts Dining.
But the need for a central site of campus communication is ever-present, and with TuftsLife lacking in both popularity and efficiency, the student body has turned instead to a fragmented network of Facebook groups, e-lists and scattered fliers. The website, run by a lineage of tech-savvy undergraduates, is apparently under reconstruction, but perhaps the site is in need of a major overhaul in mission statement as opposed to a few minor design tweaks.
While one of the website’s redeeming qualities is that it is largely student-run, this feature serves little purpose if students do not think to use it because of its reputation for lacking in comprehensiveness and virtual traffic. Tufts needs a website that could serve as a sort of conglomerate of calendar events, classified ads and group promotions. Yes, students should be supporting a virtual commons and a billboard able to be viewed by anyone at Tufts at any time. However, although minor design improvements might increase the efficiency and popularity of the site, perhaps we should consider designing a new TuftsLife that really takes into consideration what the university needs, and that fosters a sense of open communication and connectedness within the student body.