It’s no secret that Tufts is a PWI. That’s information I had learned from a quick Google search on the demographics of the student body and faculty when I was applying, but that search never really told me the full story. See the results of my search were graphs and statistics, but numbers can’t really explain the type of place that Tufts is — a school that puts in the work to support its underrepresented students. Being a low-income, first gen, queer, Black person who’s gone to PWIs my entire life, I’ve experienced what performative support to diverse communities feels like, so I can confidently report that the support and resources given to students from diverse backgrounds at Tufts are really meant to help us. Tufts is the first place that I’ve felt has supported me and all my identities.
Tufts has eight identity-based resource centers that form the Division of Student Diversity and Inclusion (DSDI): the Africana Center, the Asian American Center, the Center for STEM Diversity, the FIRST Resource Center, the Indigenous Center, the Latinx Center, the LGBT Center, and the Women’s Center. All these centers support different populations of students and are meant to foster community for those students on campus. There are also many clubs and organizations under each center that focus on even more specific communities. Intersectionality has actual meaning with the DSDI and it’s easy to get involved with as many centers as you need to make sure all your identities are being recognized. Most importantly, the centers all have people who are ready to help you with anything you need whether it be academic help or just someone to talk to and the centers are in houses that you can visit and sit in whenever you need to be surrounded with people who look like you.
So, what does all this mean? Sure, it’s great that there’s so much support, but if you’re like me when I was applying, you’re wondering how these centers will actually affect your college life here at Tufts. If you’re like me and you’ve never had this kind of support before it can be hard to imagine what community feels like and why it even matters. I never really thought that being connected to my identities was that important until I sat on the Africana Center lawn for the first day of my Student’s Quest for Unity in the African Diaspora (SQUAD) pre-orientation for a barbeque. That was the first time I had really felt belonging at a school and I would only continue to find more spaces on campus where I could feel that way as time went on. I’ve connected to my Caribbean roots on the lawn on the Latinx Center for the Caribbean Student’s Organization’s cookout, felt supported in my queer identity while picking up pins and stickers from the LGBT Center’s open house, and I’m excited to attend the Women’s Center’s series on body liberation.
I’ve also seen the diversity that Tufts often boasts about firsthand at the DSDI Block Party hosted by all the centers. I was able to learn more about the future events and resources offered by the centers while playing in the bouncy castle and going down the huge bouncy slides that had been set up. I got to meet new people while playing large versions of cornhole, Connect Four, and Jenga and I even joined a game of volleyball where I almost hit the ball over the net. It might be hard to imagine what kind of diversity exists at a PWI, but once you get on campus there are plenty of opportunities, almost always involving food, for you to experience it.