In December 2016, I appointed a Student Life Review Committee to undertake a holistic assessment of the culture of undergraduate student life at Tufts. After a semester of hard work, involving substantial community consultation on and off campus, the Committee has provided me with their report. It includes important recommendations for enhancing residential and social life on campus in ways that will support our students’ well-being, personal growth, and sense of community.
I am writing today to share a summary of the Committee’s recommendations, which I expect will significantly affect both the short- and long-term priorities of the division of Student Affairs as well as plans for residential and social spaces. I am sharing this summary with you now, at the beginning of the summer, in light of strong interest in the Committee’s work. We are developing plans for community discussion of the Committee’s full report this fall so that we can collaborate effectively on plans to act on the Committee’s recommendations.
The Committee’s charge was broad in scope and put particular focus on Greek life, student organizations, athletics, and the social and residential experience at Tufts. In its assessment, the Committee emphasized the importance of supporting students’ personal development, enhancing the sense of community, strengthening resources and protocols for health and safety, and reaffirming our commitment to Tufts’ core values of accessibility, diversity, and inclusion. The following outline is a brief summary of the Committee’s very thoughtful and detailed recommendations:
Enhance Student Safety and Well-being: Enhance protocols, policies, and trainings that promote safety at campus events, including expanding alcohol and safe-event training, increasing hazing prevention education, and continuing efforts to prevent sexual misconduct.
Promote Diversity and Inclusion: Continue to increase student diversity and support meaningful engagement and inclusion for all students; assess supports and resources for the Group of Six, first generation and undocumented students; explore opportunities for substantive intergroup dialogue; continue to advance implementation of the 2013 recommendations of the Council on Diversity.
Foster Campus-wide Community: Review recognition requirements and funding for student organizations and expand programming for students returning from study abroad.
Expand the First-Year Experience: Continue to expand access to Pre-Orientation programs, strengthen Pre-Major Advising, and extend students’ introduction to Tufts beyond Orientation.
Revitalize the Residential Experience: Invest in residential facilities and revitalize residential programming; review support for theme housing and other models that support student engagement and community.
Remodel Greek Life: Enhance administrative oversight and improve risk management practices within Greek organizations while requiring high standards of conduct; emphasize leadership development and address financial and systemic barriers to participation and inclusion. Review progress within Greek organizations on an ongoing basis and undertake a comprehensive review of Greek life in 3-4 years to assess progress in the context of the evolving social and residential climate on campus.
Enhance Social Spaces: Develop spaces that support a richer and more varied social life on campus, reviewing opportunities for the flexible use of space.
Many of these recommendations align closely with current strategic thinking and programming efforts in the division of Student Affairs. This summer, we will be working diligently to evaluate the Committee’s full report. We will share it with you in the fall, along with an administrative response and opportunities for the entire community to comment on the report and on next steps.
I am looking forward to engaged conversation next year with students, faculty, and staff members about how to most effectively implement the Committee’s recommendations. I recently reviewed the recommendations with the university’s Board of Trustees, and I am pleased to report that they are as excited as I am by the opportunity to enhance undergraduate residential and social life at Tufts and align it more fully with our vision for a transformational student experience.
I am grateful to all the students, faculty, staff, and alumni who served on the Committee for their hard work and commitment to Tufts. I particularly appreciate the leadership of Committee Chair Susan H. Murphy, Ph.D., Vice President Emerita of Student and Academic Services at Cornell University. Thank you, too, to all those community members who shared valuable feedback with the Committee by participating in focus groups, the Idea Wall, and other forums, both online and in person. This is truly a community effort, and I am eager to see the many positive impacts it will have on our university in the years to come.