Time to retire the term ‘townie’

Early Saturday morning, the Tufts community once again found itself victim of an incident of anti-Semitic graffiti. This time, the vandalism took place behind Theta Delta Chi Fraternity (more commonly known on campus as 123). According to an email sent out by the Tufts University Department of Public and Environmental Safety, the perpetrators painted on several cars, defacing one with a swastika. This act of hatred is deplorable, and it is incredibly frustrating to hear about anti-Semitic graffiti happening on campus over and over again. To put it bluntly, this hate speech is unacceptable anywhere, but especially at a place as open minded as a university. Under no circumstances are actions such as these ever acceptable, and the perpetrators should be brought to justice and punished appropriately.

However, the common reaction of blaming the entire Medford/Somerville community — colloquially referred to as “townies” — is not a productive response. This sort of harmful language ends up producing the same exclusionary attitudes that allow hateful ideologies like anti-Semitism to exist in the first place. We cannot hastily blame an entire community for several individuals’ actions — especially when there has yet to be concrete evidence indicting any perpetrators.

The popularity of terms like “townie” among Tufts students reveals the existence of an unfortunately exclusionary attitude on campus. Many students use the phrase flippantly and do not realize the “us versus them” dichotomy that their diction implicitly creates between Tufts and its surrounding neighborhoods.

Many students fail to realize that many of the residents from the surrounding communities are already inextricably part of the fabric of Tufts. Locals can be found working at the gym, running the register at the dining halls and studying in Tisch — and nearly all of them can be found contributing productively to the Tufts community.

It is disappointing to see, therefore, that even some of the most socially conscious students at Tufts use the term without hesitation. Often, the term is used to construct the image of the “townie” as a racist, sexist and homophobic threat to the well-being of our community — despite the fact that most of our encounters with people from the area have been positive.

In fact, the fear that “townies” will taint our progressive, socially conscious spaces implies that Tufts’ own student body is free from these prejudicial beliefs, which is of course laughably far from the truth. As much as we wish it was not the case, there are racists, sexists, homophobes and anti-Semites who go to this school, too. We are constantly grappling with these issues no differently than the communities of Medford or Somerville.

Belittling our neighbors with terms like “townie,” either as a response to Saturday’s incident and others like it or as casual, everyday expressions, is never acceptable. It is time to realize that Tufts and its surrounding neighborhoods are part of a larger community, and that terms like “townie” only serve to break down that community.


13 Responses

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  1. Confused_jumbo
    Mar 31, 2015 - 04:23 PM

    So you’re victim blaming. If we call them townies then they draw swastikas over our campus. That makes sense

  2. Bob Loblaw
    Apr 01, 2015 - 11:13 AM

    Townie story time! It was a nice snowy day on the hill, so my friends and I decided that it would be fun to sled down the President’s Lawn. Group of townies are already there, mix of ages but seemed like teens/young adult types. We were patiently waiting our turn when they turn to us, start cursing us out, and begin pelting us with ice balls. The crass attitude our “neighbors” have for us isn’t neighborly at all. They don’t deserve to be called neighbors, and if they don’t like what the University is doing to advance the area they can leave. We all know they are raking students over the coals in terms of rent gouging, so the least they can do is act neighborly. Until then, they are just bitter townies to me.

    • Peter
      Apr 01, 2015 - 05:45 PM

      lol this is exactly the generalization that the article is decrying. Judging the whole community based on the actions of some landlords and an interaction you had with these people leads to more animosity and exclusivity.

      • scared_tufts_student
        Apr 02, 2015 - 09:44 AM

        You should ask TUPD to show you the pictures of all the knives and other weapons confiscated from “the locals” (AKA townies) that they show during their party training. It’s pretty disturbing. Maybe learn something before acting like the interactions everyone has aren’t legit

        • Peter
          Apr 02, 2015 - 11:15 AM

          Did TUPD provide a statistical analysis of how many townies didn’t have weapons? No? Maybe consider that you’re still making generalizations based on fear.

      • Bob Loblaw
        Apr 02, 2015 - 01:53 PM

        Yup! And for good reason. Maybe we should gate off the campus like Harvard or charge a townie admission fee.

  3. Vays
    Apr 04, 2015 - 10:00 PM

    Townie just means someone from the town. Get over it.

  4. BFG
    Apr 04, 2015 - 10:59 PM

    I don’t have a problem with people from the area but I recognize they probably dislike tufts students because we are loud and obnoxious a lot of the time and don’t respect the fact that we are essentially visitors in someone else’s hometown. We are pushing locals further out of the city’s central area through inflated rent prices. Tufts has done a lot for the area as an institution but the student body hasn’t represented that attitude and the animosity is probably justified in that way.

    • jumbo2016
      Apr 07, 2015 - 06:40 PM

      As individual students we are “essentially visitors in someone else’s hometown” but as an institution, it is the reverse. The locals moved to the area long after tufts existed (unless the townsfolk are 160 years old). Complaining about late night noise when living on top of a university makes about as much sense as complaining about planes when living next to Logan. And as for high rent prices, that should be blamed on the landlords (most of whom are locals themselves) who increase rent because they can. It’s not like students want to pay high rent, and the high rent is a huge problem for low-income students.

  5. Alum2010
    Apr 05, 2015 - 01:36 AM

    are you kidding me? THAT’S the take-away from this incident…?

  6. Judas Shekelburg
    Apr 05, 2015 - 11:52 AM

    Considering this is a school that celebrates an annual “Israel Apartheid week”, criticizing the only democracy in the middle east while ignoring the systematic oppression that occurs in nearly every other state there, it is unsurprising that there are antisemites doing antisemitic things here.

    Considering the Tufts Daily has an incredibly strong anti-Israel bias, it’s unsurprising they would attempt to paint antisemitism as something else. Antisemites look after their own.

    • Guest
      Apr 05, 2015 - 01:34 PM

      Maybe consider the fact that Israel has been systematically oppressing Palestinians for the last half century..

      • Judas Shekelburg
        Apr 05, 2015 - 02:20 PM

        Would these be the Palestinians who live in Israel and are citizens and enjoy equal rights to the Jews? Or the Palestinians in the Gaza strip who elect Hamas as their government and fire rockets into Israel? Or the Palestinians in the West Bank who formed a unity government with Hamas and funnel their tax dollars into the war effort, and who turned down statehood which offered 95% of the Palestinian territories and international administration in Jerusalem, and instead began a new war?

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