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Letter from the Editor

News & Features | April 22, 2019

I remember stopping by the Observer’s table when I visited Tufts for Jumbo Days. I picked up an issue, and my dad immediately squeezed my arm and said, “You’re going to work for them.” He was right, as dads often {infuriatingly} are. Just a few months later I squeezed into the Crane Room for a packed GIM, thinking there was no way I’d be able to get away with one of the few first-year staff positions. So I was shocked when, a few days later, I got an email from the Creative Director inviting me to be a designer (now, I tell our designers all the time that if I had been up against them, I never would have made the cut). I was excited, but I never could have imagined how transformative the O would be to my college experience, or that I’d be looking back on it four years later as Editor-in-Chief.

I’ve loved my time on the Observer for so many reasons—for the people and perspectives it exposed me to that I never would have encountered otherwise; for the lifelong friends I’ve made; for the professional experience I’ve gained (that tops anything I’ve learned in class or internships); for the growth it has allowed me as a writer; for all the thinking it has made me do about myself and the world around me. But the Observer also represents something bigger than all that, something that I have sometimes struggled to put into words, but that I have been thinking about more and more as my time both on staff and at Tufts draws to an end.

In those early days on staff, I felt somewhat invisible as a first-year designer, quietly clicking away at InDesign in a corner of the MAB lab while the upperclassmen rushed around me in synchronized chaos, pulling bits of the magazine together piece by piece late into the night. During that time, I loved eavesdropping on staff discussions about the articles we ran and the issues on campus we wanted to investigate. It didn’t take long for me to notice a common theme among our coverage—much of it centered around criticizing Tufts.

At first, this didn’t make sense to me. All I had been led to believe in high school was that going to college was the best thing that could ever happen to a person—everyone loves their school, because how could you not? Universities are supposed to be wonderful institutions where we learn and make friends and have the best four years of our lives.

I’ve loved my four years—but I’ve also learned that this was never the whole truth, not for anyone, not for any school, and certainly not for Tufts. Tufts is riddled with flaws as an institution, and run surely by people with some good intentions, but overall by an administration that is out of touch with students and their needs. It consistently acts at odds with the values of students and fails to respond to our outrage when they do. I’ve seen this when it took a year of community protests for the third-highest paid University President in Massachusetts to finally agree to give dining workers a living wage and fair union contract. I’ve seen it when the school has retained symbolic and monetary ties to Big Pharma and fossil fuel giants. I’ve seen it perhaps most clearly when they have consistently disregarded survivors of sexual assault and their demands for a safer campus, choosing instead to protect perpetrators. Don’t believe me? Take a look at how the University handbook punishes sexual assault, and how it punishes plagiarism. Three guesses which one gets you expelled.

Again, this is not just a Tufts problem. But what makes me so angry, is that Tufts is unique in that it has spent years explicitly building its image around being a progressive institution that cultivates and empowers social justice. From all the inspiring advocates I’ve met during my time here, I can say with confidence that it certainly attracts that kind of person. However, Tufts completely fails to deliver on its purported values. Administrators continue to exploit the students who work so hard to bring about justice in our community every day, all for the sake of attractive marketing. And it’s disgusting.

I realized this more and more as I started editing articles investigating these topics, and eventually writing them myself. That’s when it really started to dawn on me what it meant to shed light on hidden injustice, to give voice to those who were silenced, and to be critical of corrupted power. Suddenly, student journalism wasn’t just a fun extracurricular activity anymore. It was speaking up for real people’s stories and livelihoods, sometimes when no one else would.

I firmly believe that doing this work for the Observer is the most important thing I’ve done with my time in college. Even at the times when I’ve been frustrated (once again) with the University’s lack of response to our critiques, I hold out for the fact that even when we are ignored, we are still documenting physical evidence of the injustices we see, and little by little, we are pushing back against the status quo and demanding action.

So now, when I look back at my first year self, astounded by how anyone could be so critical of the place they call home for four years, I obviously feel naive. But I also have realized that insistence to speak out about Tufts and its shortcomings isn’t born just out of bitterness or defiance. It is also born out of love. When you love something, you don’t give up on it; you push it to be better because you know it can be better. We know and believe that Tufts can be better, and we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t. I’ve had this thought not just about Tufts, but about our country too, another entity I’m frequently finding myself forgetting how to love. But like at Tufts, I see those who refuse to accept the status quo and love not what it is now, but what they know it can be. And that makes everything else worth it.

I don’t regret the countless hours I’ve put into the O, the 6 a.m. Tuesday late nights, all the times I didn’t study enough for a midterm because I stayed late at layout, or traded time perfecting a paper for editing and re-editing a tough article. The truth is, it was never really a choice. The O was just more important.

I am so grateful to have had this experience and reached these conclusions. And beyond the serious, I am just so grateful for all the beautiful people on this staff who have been there to laugh with me through many, many late nights, and who make this whole damn thing happen with me. So thank you—thank you to the now-graduated staff who made all this possible long before me; to the new staff members who I see so much for in the future; I am so sad I won’t be here to witness your growth first-hand. To my ray of sunshine Erica who makes our magazine so beautiful and never fails to make me smile; to my other half Wilson and other half-emeritus Emmett who I 100 percent never could have led this team without. And a special shout-out to maybe the most unexpected person the O ever gave me—my first co-editor, Misha. We worked together for just four months; not only does he continues to offer me some of my most valuable journalistic advice, but he is also my best friend to this day. I love you all so much.