Jumbos Stampede Back

Last weekend alumni from the classes of 2003 to 2012 came back to the hill to catch up and reconnect with old friends and enjoy festivities coordinated by Tufts Alumni Association.

Events included drinks in Davis Square; a BBQ and wine tasting on the President’s Lawn (though rain broke tradition and caused a relocation to Gantcher); Hall Snacks for the classes of 2003, 2008 and 2012; a classy Jumbo Soiree attended by President Monaco; and last but not least, a relaxing brunch in Carmichael where alumni were able to indulge in their dining center favorite, Belgian waffles.

Apart from all these great activities, the classes of 2008 and 2012 were able to congratulate themselves on successfully securing $10,000 scholarships for future Jumbos. By having at least 50 class members become new donors, an anonymous alumnus generously funded a scholarship under both classes’ names.

Check out some pictures of the weekend’s events below

Jumbo Soiree

Jumbo Soiree


Brunch at Carm

Brunch at Carm


Brunch in Carmichael

Brunch in Carmichael



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Read by the River 2013

Sunday, March 10 was the annual Read by the River event. This kid’s carnival focusing on literacy is sponsored by Tufts Hillel.

In order to enter the carnival, which was held at the Gantcher Center, children presented a book report. The theme of this year’s fair, “Reading Around Boston,” included booths with games and arts and crafts – many with a literary focus – as well as a scavenger hunt and bean bag toss. This year, New England Patriot’s Ryan Wendell attended to talk about his own experiences with reading. He also read a story and signed autographs.

With nearly 850 children at the carnival, it was a huge literary success!

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Author Talk: Sarah Sobieraj

On February 28, Professor Sarah Sobieraj gave a talk at Tufts about her book, Soundbitten, which focuses on the relationship between news and activist organizations.

In 2000, Sobieraj started collecting information for the book.  She interviewed more than 120 individuals and highlighted 50 diverse activist groups who focused on a range of issues from war opposition to the environment. When she started interviewing the groups around election time, she assumed that most would want to influence a candidate. She found out that only a few did but what all the groups were really trying to get was mainstream media attention.

Soundbitten dives into not only the tactics various groups used to get media coverage, but also how the media deals with these cries for attention as well as what movements have and have not been successful. Some of the tactics used by various groups include protests, drama, comedy, irony, wit,  recruiting political celebrities, dancing and singing. Most of these groups rarely get any attention for these actions and often the coverage they do get is not about their goals or message. These groups practice media literacy with talking points to give to reporters, however the problem is that journalists prefer unscripted sounding individuals. Some of the groups spend hours practicing for the reporters, when it truth this is what makes the reporters uninterested.

An example of a movement that got a lot of media coverage was the Occupy movement. As Occupy was unorganized and was not as actively seeking media coverage, this made the protests come off as extremely authentic. That authenticity was what attracted media attention. They avoided the trap of seeing media as the goal but were able to see it for what it should be: a strategy.

Professor Sobieraj has been an associate professor at Tufts since 2005. In 2010 she received the Tufts Undergraduate Teaching Award for displaying compassion to her students and passion about her work.

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Responses to Newtown: Violence Prevention, Mental Health Access, and the Role of Health Professionals as Active Citizens

On Feb. 5, Tufts Medical School hosted a panel discussion on the role of public health professionals and mental health providers on preventing tragedies like the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. The panel was moderated by John Schreiber, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the medical school, and featured Janice Levine, Ph.D., a clinical and developmental psychologist who responded to the Newtown, CT shootings; Jon Sargent, M.D., director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Tufts Medical Center and social & behavioral medicine lecturer; Laurel Leslie, M.D., MPH, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician and public health researcher with the Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute; and Sigalit Hoffman, M.D., a psychiatrist and medical director of the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project at Tufts Medical Center. Each panelist focused on a different piece of the tragedy and the problems behind it. Throughout the discussion, two themes emerged: violence and the role of violent media in society, and weapons and the second amendment.

Janice Levine, Ph.D., opened the discussion with her experiences as one of the first mental health professionals to respond on-site to the tragedy. Mentioning the Sandy Hook Promise, a community-based initiative to “support common sense solutions that make my community and our country safer from similar acts of violence,” Levine highlighted the similarities between their mission and that of medical practitioners. However, she also stressed that doctors have a responsibility to be the first to respond to the warning signs that arise before tragedy strikes.

“You are in a field where you alone can be a diagnostician and first responder; where you are singular privy to the health and lifestyle of your patients,” she said.  Levine urged students to begin dialogues and become pioneers within the AMA and AAP “to protect and enhance the sanctity of speech between doctor and patient, and that they use this privilege wisely to advance protection, safety, and the prevention of harm to our children.”

Sigalit Hoffman, M.D., continued the discussion outlining the red flags associated with trauma, especially in children. She highlighted the importance of adults dealing with the tragedy while still being emotionally available for their children. Hoffman also stressed that some children would be more affected by the tragedy than others, and identifying those children is one of the most important pieces of recovery for the Newtown community. In dealing with the aftermath of the tragedy, she spoke of schools preparing plans in the event that such things were to occur and so they are ready to act on it if disasters strike.

Jon Sargent, M.D., re-directed the conversation to focus on the larger societal issues at hand. He reminded the audience of data surrounding gun violence and concluded that it’s “community-based and selective.”

“Violence tends to occur at the intersection between race and poverty; adversity builds on adversity,” he explained. Sargent’s call to action for those in attendance was to honor the tragedy and get involved as civilians through community watches, mentorships, picking up trash–anything that would strengthen communities where these crimes are more probable.

Laurel Leslie, M.D., MPH, concluded the discussion by bringing everything back to the individual level: “What can I do as one person? What can I do outside and beyond myself?” she asked. As citizens, Leslie explained, we can all change public discourse and thought around gun violence by challenging the existing norms about them. We can also push for change by signing petitions. As healthcare professionals, Leslie urged the students in the room to ask the difficult questions: to ask patients about suicide.

After the panel discussion, the audience asked questions that led to many revealing facts about violence, children and metal health access:

  • 20% of kids are at high risk for being affected from watching violent video games
  • According to Sargent, some kids are “adult magnets:” they’re attractive, intelligent, athletic and overall successful. These kids receive the most attention, yet it’s the non-adult magnets that need the most help. If people want to help stop inner city violence, they must make a difference one-on-one with the non-adult magnets.
  • The availability of mental health access for children is alarmingly low. There are 75 million children in America and only 8,000 child psychiatrists. These mental health practitioners live in very concentrated urban areas and are not accessible to children throughout the country. Also, the insurance reimbursement for psychologists is not sufficient, so most child psychiatrists chose to open private practices. The panel agreed the system is flawed and Sargent spoke to the aspiring medical practitioners in the room, the future of American health and medicine, “We don’t do this well and we are giving it to you.”

John Schreiber, M.D., MPH, ended the discussion with news that the NRA is currently attempting to block H.R. 321, a bill that allows research on firearm safety and gun violence, and urged attendees to call their congressmen and support the bill.

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The Right to Food: A Weapon Against Global Hunger

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Election Aftermath: Why Should I Believe What I See on the News?

Last Friday, Marin Porges, A82, came back to the hill to discuss news coverage of the 2012 election with students. Porges has more than 25 years of experience in journalism and is currently a senior producer of news standards and practices at NBC News and previously worked at ABC News. She was the 2012 recipient of the Tufts P.T. Barnum Award for Excellence in Entertainment.

Marin Porges discussing election night coverage with students

Porges began her discussion by describing her experience in journalism and her current role as senior producer of news standards and practices. She specifically detailed how her role took a part in the 2012 election: for the first time in her career, Porges took a seat at the “Decision Desk,” an secluded area where only senior producers and political science statisticians deal with data coming in from each state. Her job as senior producer was to approve the conclusions the statisticians came to from the data for reporting, a job she described as scary. Throughout her discussion, Porges stressed that it’s “better to be right than first,” even though NBC was the first network to call Obama’s victory on election night at 11:12pm.

Porges also made attendees aware of journalistic and ethical standards and processes. For example, she discussed how NBC makes sure to include the context of any piece of news they report that was given to them by any political party or candidate in order to have complete control of the messages they are sending to their audience. This, Porges stressed, keeps audiences informed and trusting the network since, “once our viewers don’t trust us, we’ve lost it all.”

Porges also taught her audience that every news organization uses the same exit polls. Since these news organizations don’t have enough money to each have an exit poll, they pool their resources. She also discussed that a special group at NBC reports and checks voting irregularities. She went into detail about the things that complicate election coverage like early voting. By election night, 50%+ of the battle ground states will have already voted so the exit polls aren’t as reliable as they used to be. In order to solve this problem, news stations have resorted to new tactics like calling voters in battle ground states to add to their exit poll data.

Another complication for Porges and her team is social media. Today her journalists have to be trained on everything: camera work, editing, writing, and this has made their work “a lot easier and a lot harder.” In the past, journalists could get help from experts on their team, but today, there is no time to fully train journalists one-on-one on the skills they must know. Also, on election night, journalists are given sensitive material, which they must not disseminate through their social media channels prior to the news being reported as stated by NBC policy. Yet during this election, NBC dealt with two instances of people on their team tweeting information before it was reported. Porges advised students to be careful of their social media presence claiming that, “It’ll come back to haunt you,” and asking them to check the social media policies of the news organization they work for and to make sure students don’t send anything on email that they wouldn’t want to be public.

The discussion ended with a Q&A session and the chance for students to meet and network with Porges.



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Anthony Romero at Tufts’ Snyder Lecture

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Doug Conant, Corporate Citizen Fellow Lecture

On November 5, Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell Soup Company, was honored by the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service as the first Corporate Citizen Fellow. He received this honor for his “exemplary leadership and emphasis on sustainability and corporate social responsibility.”

His lecture, Embracing the Genius of the “and” – Delivering Economic “and” Social Value, gave attendees a peak into how Conant approached leading Campbell and the personal factors that drove him to the success he has today.

Throughout the lecture he emphasized the importance of “touchpoints” and using every moment we share with others to make a positive impact in their lives. He also gave specific advice to students who wish to succeed in the business world while staying true to their active citizen roots.

Check out some points from his talk:

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“The Story of Bananas” Dinner

On October 24th, Tufts Dining and the Tufts Office of Sustainability teamed up to present “The Story of Bananas” at Dewick Dining Hall. The event focused on educating students on their favorite dining hall item—from farm to plate to compost heap—and was modeled after Annie Leonard’s “The Story of Stuff.” Students were treated to a chocolate dipping bar and five stations that detailed the journey bananas go through before and after they get to our dining centers. If students visited each station, they were entered in a raffle to win a pizza and cupcake party along with other banana-themed prizes.

Story of bananas "passports" were hole-punched after visiting each station.

Student volunteers teach their peers about the transportation and storage of bananas.

Student volunteers were easily identified by their matching "Ask Me About Bananas" t-shirts.

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Sam Sommers’ Author Talk

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