As I prepared to start this semester, and to take the helm of The Tufts Daily, I won’t deny I was nervous. I was concerned that I would not be able balance the weight of a nearly 40-year-old-daily publication, a staff of around 200 and a commitment to paint an accurate and representative portrait of the community on my shoulders.
This semester, there have been times the Daily has done an exquisite job of getting the story right — with incisive daily coverage, thought-provoking investigative pieces and beautiful visual storytelling. There have also been times when we have failed our readers with stories that have lacked adequate balance, accuracy or sensitivity. But what has struck me most this semester is the hard work of this community — both at the Daily and at Tufts. Every time I have felt overwhelmed by the stresses of my job, I look at the students around me and am immediately humbled.
From our office in the basement of Curtis Hall, I have seen writers drop everything they are doing to talk to one extra source to make an article that much more balanced. I have seen photographers travel across the city to capture a story and layout and graphics editors transform a dense article into something that is visually comprehensible. I have seen social media editors wake up early to make sure our readers are aware of our coverage and copy editors stay up late to make sure they can understand it. I have seen business and online teams pushing to ensure we maintain financial independence from the university and an Intentionality and Inclusivity Committee working tirelessly to make sure our coverage truly serves the communities we cover.
But it is not only our talented staff who awe me daily. My job involves reading hundreds of articles about the Tufts student body. On top of demanding courses, internship applications and time spent with friends and loved ones, Jumbos do some pretty amazing things. This semester alone, students have organized around tuition increases, more gender-neutral bathrooms, gun control reform, protections and awareness for immigrants and undocumented people and assisted in the dining workers’ push for unionization. As a result of these efforts and actions taken by students in previous semesters, there is now a gender-neutral bathroom in the Campus Center and the Asian American Center is more usable as a community space. Listening to student demands, members of Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate have helped make public previously unavailable economic diversity data; extend the pass/fail deadline for sophomores, juniors and seniors; and save students $77,000 through the TCU Textbook exchange. Students have enriched the cultural fabric of the university through putting on full operas and original drama and dance performances and enhanced our athletic prowess through NCAA wins and NESCAC championships.
For those of you graduating today, the thought of stepping into the world outside of the Medford/Somerville bubble may seem like an insurmountable task, one where you’re expected to make your mark, but the blank slate seems too gargantuan for anyone to notice. But before you become consumed with existential dread, I just want you to remember all that you have accomplished. At the beginning of your Tufts experience, all you had to your name was a candle and today, you have started student organizations, completed year-long research projects and most importantly, inspired your fellow classmates. And when the path forward in post-grad life seems impossible to discern, you can always lean on this supportive community of Jumbos, whose dedication and passion helped me complete a daunting task this semester. Congratulations to the Class of 2018. I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next.