School of Arts and Sciences

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

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Jumbo Soiree

Jumbo Soiree

 

Brunch at Carm

Brunch at Carm

 

Brunch in Carmichael

Brunch in Carmichael

 

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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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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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“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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Brian Williams at Tufts


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Muhammad Yunus at Tufts


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Renewing Our Democracy

On Wednesday, April 4 panelists Simon Rosenberg, Dean Glaser, Peter Levine, Pam Wilmot, and Leslie Ogden came together to offer insights and information on new voting restrictions, campaign rules, electoral college reform, and Senate inequality.

 

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Distinguished Writer’s Series: Gary Shteyngart

The Distinguished Writer’s Series at Tufts brings world-renowned authors to the university to share insight into their works and experiences as writers. On Friday, March 30, Gary Shteyngart visited Tufts as part of this series.

Shteyngart, who teaches writing at Columbia University and Princeton University, is the author of The Russian Debutante’s Handbook (2002), Absurdistan (2006), and Super Sad True Love Story (2010). His writing has been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Slate. He is the winner of the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the Book-of-the-Month Club First Fiction Award.

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Alan Shapiro Entrepreneurial Lecture featuring Charles Sennott

Charles Sennott is a “reluctant entrepreneur” who took his friend’s advice to “go out and change the world.” On Monday, March 26, he shared his story of co-founding GlobalPost at the Alan Shapiro Entrepreneurial Lecture.

This Lecture Series brings guests to Tufts to share their journeys as entrepreneurial leaders. Alan’s sons, Jacob A08, and Caleb A11, describe their father as “an entrepreneur who embraced change” and hope that the Alan Shapiro Entrepreneurial Lectures inspire students and alumni to explore the world of entrepreneurship.

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Lyon & Bendheim Lecture, featuring Robert Sterne (E73, AG75)

On Mar. 8, the Lyon & Bendheim Alumni Lecture series hosted Robert Sterne, E73, AG75, director at Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox, one of the leading patent attorneys in the United States in patent reexamination and concurrent patent litigation.

The Lyon & Bendheim Alumni Lecture series was established by JB Lyon, A85, and Tom Bendheim, A85, and chooses lectures that are leaders in their respective fields and have repeatedly proven themselves with tremendous achievements at the highest levels. The series mission is to bring prominent and successful alumni to campus to share their wisdom and experience with students.

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