The 617: Local journalism

The Medford Transcript is a local paper that highlights all that goes on in the nearby vicinity. Tufts’ surrounding area has much more to it than some fun restaurants on Boston Avenue. Local politics from the perspective of the local paper gives Tufts’ students insight about what happens in the surrounding area and what matters to people who live near us.

Without question, the issue of housing is the most contentious in the Medford/Somerville area and the issue that affects Tufts students the most. But it’s also important to mention that the most prevalent issues depend on what students value. Editor for the Medford Transcript Miranda Willson commented on progress on the environmental front. Willson noted, “This month, Medford City Council passed a plastic bag ban and approved a plan for municipal energy aggregation.” Both of these measures are great steps towards making Medford and Somerville more environmentally friendly areas. Tufts students can get involved with various local initiatives depending on their interest. For example, students interested in education could attend Medford School Board meetings and listen to discussions on public school initiatives.

The housing problems Tufts faces seem to plague a lot of the Boston area, Willson pointed out. Tufts has been hoping to convert houses off of Boston Avenue into dorms. To do this, Tufts had to go to Medford City Council. In many incidents, the residents of the Medford area are frustrated with Tufts.

“People felt that professors and faculty used to live in those houses, but now it’ll be two hundred Tufts students,” Willson told the Daily.

Residents of Medford were not excited by the prospect of having more students populating their neighborhoods, Willson said. The housing situation on campus is a nightmare. Students don’t have housing guaranteed past their sophomore year and are often forced to enter the incredibly difficult-to-maneuver world of rentals and subletters. The majority of Tufts students have no experience dealing with landlords, and Tufts now expects them to sign leases and negotiate property deals at 20 years old and with no help from the university. Obviously, Tufts needs to expand on-campus housing, but it comes at the expense of Medford residents’ desires.

In discussion of prevalent issues in the community, I wondered how Tufts students could get involved with the surrounding area. Willson said, “If there’s an issue at the local level you care about, the municipalities can do that. And there are probably people already trying to do that. Look at different local organizations for help too.”

Great sources for staying involved would be the Medford Transcript, Scout and the Somerville JournalThese are great ways to know what’s going on in the community and ways to get involved. Being Tufts students makes us members of the Medford/Somerville community, and we should work to make our surrounding neighborhood better.

A lasting, often overlooked piece of advice is to check out the local libraries! The libraries in our area have tons of resources that can be of academic use. And they’re a great off-campus study spot.