Whether you are a returning student, new to Tufts, in-person or remote, welcome back, and welcome home. This semester will be a time of readjustment and uncertainty; we begin school against the backdrop of a pandemic and institutional change. It is evermore important that as a community, we remain united, resilient and critical of the world around us. This fall The Tufts Daily remains committed to this mission, using our platform to cultivate conversations about issues impacting our community and spurring our administration to take action.
Over the past months, the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly spread across the globe, shutting down life as we knew it. Last semester, we discussed the various challenges that our community faced during this time, including increasing financial pressures, trouble securing housing and transportation, limited access to academic resources and feelings of loneliness and anxiety.
While Tufts’ extensive preparation for the fall addresses some of these problems, concerns persist. Remote students may struggle with meeting deadlines, collaborating with in-person students and accessing the same class materials. While we commend Tufts’ recent decisions to allow students to transfer credit from community colleges and select the exceptional pass/fail option for fall 2020 courses, our work this semester will focus on ensuring that Tufts faculty unequivocally give remote students the same quality of education and resources as their in-person peers.
In reviewing Tufts’ decision to return to campus this fall, we applaud the university for taking measures to limit the spread of the virus while preserving a Tufts-standard education; however, we must not let our in-person aspirations stand in the way of an honest, critical evaluation of health risks. By the same token, it is crucial that we are diligent in wearing face masks and social distancing in all public spaces in order to protect the Tufts and Medford-Somerville communities.
The pandemic also highlighted pervasive racial disparities that exist in our world. Following the deaths of George Floyd and many other unarmed Black individuals, millions engaged in protest and stood with the Black Lives Matter movement, demanding an end to police brutality. Tufts itself has been the site of multiple incidents of racism and discrimination, a history that it must work to actively address. In the fall and beyond, the Daily is committed to continuing these difficult discussions about racial injustice, listening to and elevating the voices of marginalized groups and advocating for justice-centered institutional and cultural change at Tufts.
When reflecting on social injustice on our campus, it is also necessary to reexamine the role of Greek life at Tufts. While the university made changes to address students’ concerns including system remodeling to promote inclusivity, implementation of a Sexual Assault Prevention Task Force and the Tufts Panhellenic Council’s suspension of fall 2020 recruitment, many argue that there remains much work to be done. As we return to campus, it is important that we reflect on the role that Greek life plays at Tufts and hold organizations accountable for sexual assault and racial, financial or gender-based exclusivity.
As we enter this fall, we face myriad challenges — COVID-19, the persistence of systemic racism and violence against Black Americans, a daunting presidential election, among many others — but we also face a unique opportunity to take action. In the midst of darkness, we hope that the Daily’s editorial board can be a light of guidance in shaping Tufts to be a more healthy, inclusive and just community.