Being a member of the Experimental College Board over this past year has been an incredibly fun experience. “Fun” may seem like too casual a word for one of the most prestigious positions Tufts campus has to offer, but it’s genuinely the best descriptor. For me, being a member of the Board has been informative, challenging, inspirational, interesting, powerful. It has allowed me to meet new friends and colleagues, people with diverse skill sets whom I would not have come in contact with otherwise. It is a forum where I can speak passionately and be heard, where I can listen thoroughly to other opinions and reevaluate my own. Plus, there’s free food, which as we all know is the purest of motivators. So, in a word, fun.
The ExCollege Board meets on a monthly basis, in the conference room on the second floor. Over this past summer, the room was decorated with the timeline created for the 50th Anniversary Exhibit which was shown in Aidekman Gallery last year. When I sit in that conference room, I am surrounded by pictures of events in American and ExCollege history, a reminder of the importance of this institution and of the power that my position holds. At these meetings, we discuss and plan upcoming events, and prepare for course applications. At the end of each semester, we have our big “money meeting,” wherein we vote on which visiting lecturer courses will be accepted for the upcoming semester. These money meetings last for several hours, but fortunately everyone on the Board is great. Being around them and talking with them for such a long time is not a chore, but a treat.
I just can’t emphasize enough what a special experience being on the Board is for me. It’s a privilege to work alongside professors and fellow students, choosing courses and planning events that will benefit the overall Tufts community. I bet you’re thinking, “Grace really can’t be this insanely passionate about the ExCollege.” Well, you’re incorrect, because crazy enthusiasm for the things I love is my schtick.
I’m trying to think of my favorite part of being a part of the Board, and I’ve decided that its the relationships that I’ve made with my fellow members. I’ve known Robyn and Howard since I was but a tiny first semester freshman, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that the ExCollege staff feels like my on-campus family. One of my fellow student Board members, Becca, taught me in a Perspectives course last year, and so I’ve thought of her as a friend and mentor for a while. But I didn’t really know any of the other Board members when I first started, and I’m pleased to say that has changed.
As a Political Science major, I probably would have never gotten to know at least half of the faculty members represented on the Board, who each come from several different departments. I definitely wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to speak with them informally about proposed courses, and have my opinion treated as equally important to theirs. The ExCollege conference room is a special place, because it puts students and professors on a level playing field. Our voices are listened to with equal regard in Board meetings, and I believe this creates a really interesting and special bond between students and professors.
Due to weekly meetings for student Board members, I’ve also had the privilege to become friends with some incredibly intelligent, focused, friendly undergrads. Each of these dedicated students has interests that encompass all different fields and activities. Being on the Board has allowed me to meet new people and actually form good, unique relationships with them.
There’s a chance that I may be studying abroad next year, and will have to relinquish my position as student Board member. But I still have the remainder of this semester to get some fine work done, and I’m comfortable in the knowledge that someone (almost) as good as me will take my place. Being a member of the Experimental College Board has been amazing, and it’s not over yet.