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Life and legacy of Tufts mascot Jumbo to be featured in upcoming exhibit

March 25, 2014 04:58 PM


Courtesy of Andrew McClellan, Tufts University

Jumbo’s portrait, 1882. Jumbo depicted next to an unknown man. The caption reads, “Taken by his old friend E.C. Barnes, Esq.,” an amateur British artist who painted this in February 1882. Jumbo had been at the London Zoo since 1865 and was the only African Bush Elephant in Europe during that time.

The exceptional life of Jumbo the circus elephant, from whose enormity the English language gets the word “jumbo,” will be chronicled in an upcoming exhibition this September in the Tufts Art Gallery, 40 Talbot Ave., Medford.

The exhibition, titled “Jumbo: Marvel, Myth and Mascot,” will feature an array of pictures, circus posters, and advertisements showing the elephant’s ascension from a circus animal to a part of American culture and history.

See pictures of Jumbo from the exhibition here.

Jumbo, who lived from 1861 to 1885, was taken from Africa as a calf and spent his early years in zoos in Paris and London — giving rides to the likes of Queen Victoria’s children and Winston Churchill — until being purchased by P.T. Barnum for $10,000 in 1881. After weeks attempting to coax Jumbo onto a ship, Barnum finally succeeded and brought him to America, where he performed and traveled with the Barnum & Bailey Circus until he was killed in a train accident in Canada at the age of 24.

“Jumbo connects to a lot of things in American history,” said Tufts University Art History Prof. Andrew McClellan, who has spent the last eight years preparing the exhibition. “Everybody knew Jumbo when he was alive and this exhibition is to bring some of that history out; how popular and how famous he was.”

Barnum marketed Jumbo when he was alive as much as possible, perhaps most notably marching him across the Brooklyn Bridge when it opened to prove the bridge safe.

After his death, Jumbo was stuffed by Carl Akeley as one of the first and most famous examples of taxidermy.

From there, Barnum, a trustee at Tufts University, displayed Jumbo’s body in his circus for four years until giving the animal to the university to be featured in the newly built science building in 1889. Jumbo remained there for almost 100 years until a fire burned down the entire building in 1975.

Now, 125 years after Jumbo’s arrival on campus, McClellan said the exhibition will convey all the aspects of the tragic life of Jumbo as a captive animal.

“He spent his life amusing human beings,’ he said. “He really illustrates the plight of animals being subjected to the whims of human beings.”

McClellan will publish a book on Jumbo coinciding with the exhibition, which will run from Sept. 4 to Dec. 7.

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and Emerson College.

Cost to study, live at Tufts University expected to rise 4 percent to $61k for 2014-15

February 25, 2014 10:00 AM

The annual cost to study and live at Tufts University is expected to rise by nearly 4 percent to $61,100 next fall.

If approved by the school’s trustee board later this spring, the proposed increase would make Tufts the first higher education institution in the Boston-area and the second statewide to charge students more than $60,000 in tuition, room, board and mandatory fees.

However, few other schools have announced what students will be charged in the next academic year, and it is likely that the $60,000-and-up club will grow as other local institutions unveil their 2014-15 rates.

“While these figures are preliminary and could change between now and May, when the board of trustees finalizes them, we think it makes sense for students and parents to have this information now,” said campus spokeswoman Kimberly Thurler.

“We expect undergraduate financial aid will increase by a significant amount in the coming year. Tufts commits to meeting the full demonstrated financial need of every undergraduate we accept for all four years at Tufts,” she added. “All our undergraduate aid is based on financial need, which assures that our aid goes to needy students who would otherwise not have access to a Tufts education. Last year the average grant for first-year students was almost $36,000.”

Amherst College, which costs $61,443 a year currently, is the state’s most expensive school, according to a Globe review of tuition, room, board and mandatory fee rates charged by higher education institutions in Massachusetts.

Estimated personal and travel expenses can bring the total cost for Amherst above $65,000, according to the school’s website.

Full-time students living on campus at several other private Massachusetts schools – including Brandeis and Harvard universities, MIT, and Babson, Wellesley and Williams colleges – pay in the mid- to high-$50,000s, and estimated personal and travel expenses can push their total bill above the $60,000 mark.

Many other local private schools cost more than $50,000.

Officials at such pricy schools often point out that their institutions offer generous financial aid package that can drastically lower the actual price charged to students and their families.

The proposed cost for the 2014-15 year at Tufts, which campus officials said could change before the university finalizes the figure in the spring, would be a 3.95 percent increase from the current price tag of $58,780.

Next year’s proposed total price tag would include $47,444 for full-time undergraduate tuition, $6,892 a year for housing, $5,720 for a meal plan, $736 for a mandatory health services fee and $308 for a student activity fee.

The figure does not include additional costs, such as to pay for books, supplies, health insurance, transportation or other personal expenses.

Most other area colleges and universities will announce their rates over the next few months.

The Associated Press reported recently that figures from the College Board show tuition and fees at four-year public colleges rose 27 percent in the past five years and tuition and fees at four-year private schools went up 14 percent.

An increasing number of schools are offering some students a guarantee that they will pay a single rate for the length of their college careers, according to the Associated Press.

And, the Globe reported recently that a number of private institutions across the country, including locally, are freezing tuition, guaranteeing graduation in four years, increasing aid or matching aid offers at competing institutions.

Though many schools tout their financial aid offerings, some experts say that potential students, particularly those from low-income backgrounds, see the so-called “sticker price” and are quickly scared off before applying because they don’t realize, or are perhaps confused by, what aid options are available.

Lesley University in Cambridge recently announced it will restructure its pricing to essentially build financial aid into base tuition and fee costs, lowering the school’s “sticker price” and potentially lowering the odds that prospective students will be scared off or confused by the actual cost.

Expensive, elite schools have been particularly criticized for not doing more to recruit and admit low-income students.

Harvard recently announced it will launch an outreach and awareness campaign to try to encourage more low-income students to apply.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

Arianna Huffington to discuss evolution of digital journalism at Tufts forum

February 24, 2014 12:37 PM


(Tufts University)

Huffington Post co-founder, chair, president and editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington will give a talk at Tufts University this spring about whether journalism is improving as it expands and shifts to digital platforms.

The university announced Huffington will be the featured speaker at the ninth annual Edward R. Murrow Forum on Issues in Journalism on Wednesday, April 16 at 12 p.m. in the Cohen Auditorium at the school’s Medford-Somerville campus.

The forum, entitled "From TV to Tablet: Is the Digital Frontier Making Journalism Better?," will begin with an interview of Huffington by Tufts alum and trustee board vice chair Jonathan M. Tisch, who hosts the television program "Beyond the Boardroom with Jonathan Tisch” in addition to his leadership roles at Loews Corporation and Loews Hotels, university officials said.

The event, free and open to the public, will end with a chance for audience members to ask Huffington about her career.

The Greek-American business executive, author and syndicated columnist is regarded as one of the world’s most influential people.

Past featured speakers at the annual forum have included Brian Williams, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour, Ted Koppel, Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather and Chris Matthews.

The forum is sponsored by Tufts’ Communications and Media Studies Program, the Edward R. Murrow Center of Public Diplomacy at The Fletcher School, and the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, campus officials said.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

New Tufts program will have incoming students spend a year doing service before starting 4-year college studies

February 19, 2014 01:15 PM

Tufts University unveiled plans Wednesday for a program in which incoming students spend a year working full-time with a national or international service organization before starting their traditional four-year college studies.

Tufts 1+4 will transform the so-called “gap year” between high school and college into a “bridge year,” campus officials said. The university said that it plans to “democratize” the program so that no students will be precluded because of limited financial resources.

The program will be formally announced during a symposium Wednesday evening at the university’s Medford/Somerville campus, Tufts officials said.

The event’s keynote speaker, retired Army general Stanley McChrystal, is expected to commend the program and to urge higher education institutions across the country to take join or launch similar initiatives, campus officials said. McChrystal chairs the leadership council of the Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project, which calls for making military or civilian national service a voluntary rite of passage into adulthood.

Tufts 1+4, which will be based at the university’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, will place admitted first-year Tufts students in selected, partner service organizations starting in the fall of 2015.

Before embarking students will attend an on-campus orientation. During their service year, students will also be taught civic and leadership skills and other academic content, and they will maintain regular contact with Tufts advisors, officials said.

After the service year is complete, students in the program will meet at Tufts’ campus to reflect. The students will then start their four-year undergraduate studies at the university. The program will also host regular meetings, workshops, events and other gatherings for students after they complete their service year.

“Through this unique experience, young people will develop their abilities and passions in ways that will strengthen their studies and experiences at Tufts, as well as their personal and professional trajectories,” said a statement from Tufts provost David Harris. “They will contribute in significant ways to solving pressing social problems while making discoveries about themselves and diverse societies.”

The university said it hopes to initially have 50 students participate in the program, before increasing involvement over time.

To select service organizations for the program, the university this spring will issue a request for proposals that will define the specific criteria for service opportunities and a framework for placing students. Tufts said it anticipates each service site would accommodate four to six Tufts students.

Tufts said it has secured early donor funding to launch the program and will rely on additional gifts to expand it.

Donors include: Brian H. Kavoogian, university trustee, member of the Tisch College board of advisors and a 1984 Tufts graduate; university trustee Thomas M. Alperin and Marsha C. Alperin, members of the class of 1981; J.B. Lyon and Tom Bendheim, members of the class of 1985 and funders of the Lyon and Bendheim Alumni Lecture Series; and Daniel H. Schulman and Jennie A. Kassanoff, parents of a Tufts sophomore.

The Tufts 1+4 program was developed from a 10-year strategic plan the university unveiled in the fall, campus officials said.

“This program aligns perfectly with Tufts University's historic commitment to innovative and active engagement in the world, and with our mission of providing our students with an education that can truly change their lives and the lives of others,” said a statement from university president Anthony P. Monaco. “We hope it will inspire students to use their talents to contribute to the world around them.”

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

Indoor vegetable garden at Tufts helps feed homeless

February 12, 2014 03:40 PM


(Tufts University)

A new indoor vegetable garden at a Tufts University research facility in Boston is helping to feed homeless people at a nearby shelter.

The Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and the Massachusetts Horticultural Society have partnered to run the garden located in a street-level lobby of the Tufts research center in the Chinatown neighborhood.

The garden is an extension of the horticultural society’s Garden to Table initiative, which offers hands-on learning to people interested in growing their own vegetables. Last year, the initiative donated nearly 4,000 pounds of produce to food pantries.

Vegetables grown at the Tufts building are donated to St. Francis House, a downtown day shelter that serves as many as 700 meals daily and provides basic, rehabilitative, and housing services for homeless people.

“The produce we receive will help us provide high-quality meals and model healthy eating," said a statement from Leslie Oliver, food services manager at St. Francis House. "Our guests will not only enjoy the fresh flavors of these combined greens, they will receive the nutritional benefit of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.”

The indoor garden consists of three elevated beds filled with soil and starter fertilizer, grow lights, and a drainage system. Signs installed alongside the crops explain the nutrient content of what’s being grown.

“Having an indoor vegetable garden that’s visible from a busy city street is a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the role of nutrient-rich foods in chronic disease prevention and in maintaining good overall health,” said a statement from Tufts nutrition science professor Simin Nikbin Meydani, the research center’s director.

John Heine, special projects administrator at the research center, said the caretakers of the garden hope to be able to collect a steady harvest every two to three weeks.

“Our initial plantings consist of radishes, beets, turnips, Vietnamese mint, tatsoi and kale,” he said in a statement. “These items were specifically chosen given the time of year and the controlled indoor environment. For some variety, we plan to change the types of food we plant every few months.”

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.


(Tufts University)

Reports of sexual assaults rise on Boston-area college campuses

February 3, 2014 11:00 AM

Reports of sexual assaults at Boston-area colleges have risen over the past five years, a Globe review of federally reported data has found.

Campus safety experts say the rise in reporting of sexual assaults suggests that many colleges – pushed by government agencies, victims, and new federal guidelines – are improving efforts to address the problem by expanding education and outreach and by more thoroughly reporting the widely underreported crime.

“When we see sexual assault numbers increase, that hopefully means the barriers to reporting are finally beginning to be addressed, which means you are beginning the steps to solve the problem,” said S. Daniel Carter, director of the 32 National Campus Safety Initiative who has spent more than two decades studying campus safety.

An estimated 88 percent of college victims do not formally report sexual assaults, according to a federal study.

Across 22 of the largest campuses in and around Boston, reports of “forcible sex offenses” rose by nearly 40 percent between 2008 and 2012, according to the most recent data supplied by colleges as required under the federal Clery Act.

The total of 113 sexual assaults reported in 2012 at the Boston-area colleges reviewed for this report is the highest level in a decade, and mirror trends at campuses nationwide. Meanwhile, reports of other serious type of crime at area schools – murder, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and arson – have declined or barely increased, according to the federal data.

The Clery reports cover allegations of crimes that occurred on campus, including dorms and other public property; at property owned by but separated from the main campus; and fraternities and sororities. They exclude other off-campus housing.

Below are examples from some of the schools’ with data that stood out:


Over the past five years, Harvard University has consistently reported more sexual assaults per year, and more incidents per enrolled student, than any other campus in the Boston area. In 2012, 38 cases were reported, up from 19 in 2008.

Harvard officials said the university has been active in recent years in trying to address the issue, including creating in 2002 a centralized office with victim-support services and resources to help students learn about sexual assault prevention and response.

“We firmly believe that more robust reporting of sexual assaults by victims is an important component of our efforts to prevent these crimes and ensure that victims get the support that they need,” said Harvard spokesman Kevin Galvin.

UMass Boston

UMass Boston reported the second-highest number of alleged assaults in 2012, at 13, up from 0 five years earlier.

Crystal Valencia, a spokeswoman for the school, said none of the 2012 incidents involved a student from the university and only one of the 2012 reported incidents occurred on campus. The others happened at off-campus property the university either owns, leases, or controls.

“UMass Boston is committed to maintaining the highest standards for the safety and security of every person on campus,” Valencia said.

BU, Northeastern

Over the past five years, Harvard has led all local schools reporting on average about 10 sexual assaults each year for every 10,000 students. Still, those rates are still well-below estimates of actual annual rape rates. For instance, a 2007 Department of Justice-funded study estimated that about 5.2 percent of college women, or 520 in every 10,000, are sexually assaulted each year; the study did not calculate a rate for men or men and women together.

Other large local schools have reported significantly fewer sexual assaults each year. Over the past five years, Boston University and Northeastern University have each reported on average about two sexual assaults each year for every 10,000 students.

Alison Kiss, executive director of the Clery Center for Security On Campus, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that trains colleges and universities to comply with the Clery Act, said she’s usually most alarmed by Clery reports with low sexual assault figures.

“We constantly tell parents and students that higher sexual assault numbers aren’t necessarily a bad thing,” she said. “It often means students know where to go to report and that they’re comfortable doing so.”

“I’m typically more concerned when I see a school reporting zeroes across the board,” Kiss added.

Yet, “All too-often it’s the colleges with the higher statistics that get labeled as being dangerous when in fact they’re usually the ones who are doing a better job reporting,” Carter said.

Madeleine Estabrook, associate vice president for student affairs at Northeastern, said the university is “very diligent” in reporting its Clery data.

She said the school’s low sexual assault reporting may be due to a wide range of variables that could impact the data, including the school’s geographic location and configuration, the number of students living on campus and the university’s efforts around sexual assault prevention and response.

“The work that is done to make the campus safe in secure is a very important variable to consider,” Estabrook said.

She said that five years ago, with help from a grant from the Department of Justice, the university revamped its violence support, response and education programming. That effort included building a collaboration among existing services on the campus, uniting programs around sexual assault, alcohol use and other campus safety issues.

Estabrook said the university's programming around campus safety is regarded as "cutting edge not only in Boston but also nationally."

BU created a campus crisis center in 2012 to focus on rape and sexual assault prevention and support for victims of such acts as well as other forms of physical abuse, such as hazing.

Colin Riley, a spokesman for BU, said the university is thorough and accurate in its reporting of Clery data.

And, "We also recognize it’s very important that students feel comfortable reporting," he said.

Riley said the university works to ensure students are aware of the issue.

"This is a topic that is frequently discussed on campus," he said.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

Congress, experts call on federal officials, campuses to improve campus sexual assault data collection efforts

February 3, 2014 11:00 AM

More than three dozen members of Congress have written to the federal office in charge of enforcing the Clery Act, calling on it to do a better job of collecting data on campus sexual assaults.

Advocacy groups and researchers have been calling for better, more transparent data collection for years. The Globe’s review of Clery data -- federally mandated reports on campus crime -- found that the number of assaults reported by most, if not all, campuses – both locally and nationally – over the past decade have been much lower than estimates of numerous studies.

Even with a spike in reported campus sexual assaults over the past five years, the rates schools are reporting come nowhere close to figures in a 2007 Department of Justice-funded study which estimated that about 5.2 percent of college women are sexually assaulted each year.

Experts say such low numbers tend to mean schools either need to do more to make students feel comfortable reporting the crime or schools need to do a more thorough, honest job in their methods for collecting and reporting the data, or a combination of the two. Stronger federal oversight could be a key driver for this, too, experts say.

Campuses urged to monitor prevalence, not just reported cases

One part of the letter signed by 39 members of Congress called on the US Education Department's Office for Civil Rights to require colleges and universities to conduct anonymous surveys of students to more accurately report how prevalent sexual assault is on each campus – not simply how often it is reported.

An estimated 88 percent of victims do not formally report the crime, according to a 2007 study funded by the Department of Justice.

David Lisak, a clinical psychologist who has spent the past three decades researching campus sexual assault, said the fact that few, if any, schools study how prevalent the crime actually is on their campuses “underscores one of the major shortcomings in how higher education has been handling sexual assault.”

Lisak, who recently retired from teaching at UMass Boston, has advised US military officials on how to prevent and respond to sexual assault cases at service academies.

He said that changes made by the Department of Defense in just the past several years has led military academies to implement better methods of collecting meaningful data about sexual assaults than higher education has managed over the past two-and-a-half decades since the Clery Act was signed into law in 1990.

The country’s three military academies not only compile annual statistics on sexual assaults reported to authorities, but also conduct an anonymous survey of cadets and midshipmen every two years to get a more accurate picture of how many sexual assaults actually occur.

For example, during the 2011-12 academic year, 58 sexual assaults were reported at the service academies, according to a report from the Department of Defense to Congress. But an anonymous survey estimated the actual number of sexual assaults at the academies that year was about 526.

“We’ve really been focusing our efforts on trying to increase reporting so victims can get the help they need,” said Department of Defense spokeswoman Lt. Col. Catherine Wilkinson.

Asked why few, if any, higher education institutions anonymously survey students regularly about sexual assault, Lisak said: “Because then the numbers are out there.”

“There’s still a lot of resistance,” he added. “All universities have mechanisms already in place [to conduct such a survey]. This would not be technically challenging really at any level. We really just need the will.”

The Jan. 29 letter from members of Congress also urges the education department office to: be more transparent about its investigations and enforcement actions around campus sexual assault and harassment; create a central, public database about laws and guidelines schools are expected to follow around the issue of sexual assault; and to require campuses to be more transparent in disclosing what each is doing to prevent and respond to sexual assault, including making available information about crime statistics, enforcement actions, and students’ rights under Title IX.

When asked for a response to the letter, Education Department press secretary Dorie Nolt said in a statement: “We have received the letter and will respond to it. We agree that this is a very important issue, which is why we have prioritized civil rights enforcement and are working to galvanize a national effort to help prevent sexual assaults and to better support survivors of sexual violence. In fact, last week, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum to establish the ‘White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.’”

Federal department unsure why some Clery figures seem off

The figures that the Globe reviewed for its story on campus sexual assault came directly from an online database run by the federal Education Department.

Every higher education institution in the US that receives federal financial aid is required by law to submit he data to the department. The department then posts those figures to the website,

The data dates back to as early as 2001, but some of the crime figures, particularly between 2001 and 2003 seem unbelievably high.

Jane Glickman, a spokeswoman for the federal Education Department, also doubted the validity of some of the data between 2001 and 2003 but said she had no idea why the numbers were likely wrong and said she did not know of anyone in the department would could provide an explanation for the apparent inconsistencies.

She said the department simply collects the data from schools and posts the numbers online. She said the department tries to check back with schools if certain numbers seem off, but otherwise the department does not analyze the data it collects.

Glickman also declined to comment on, and said she did not know anyone in the department who could comment on, why the Globe’s review found that the number of sexual assaults has risen in recent years while other crime types have gone down or held relatively steady.

“The law calls on the department to collect campus crime data and ensure that institutions are complying with the law’s provisions,” Glickman wrote in an email. “We do not analyze the data or do research into why certain crime categories are going up or down.”

However, the department is the only agency in charge of enforcing the Clery Act and its data reporting rules.

In the 15 years between 1997 and 2012, the department completed a total of 59 investigations into schools suspected of not being in full compliance with the Clery Act, according to a list of the finished reports on the education department’s website that the spokeswoman referred the Globe to. Of those, 34 investigations were completed in the four years between 2009 and 2012.

She said the department does not disclose investigations that are ongoing.

The department conducts such reviews if: a complaint is filed; “a media event raises certain concerns;” the school’s independent audit “identifies serious non-compliance;” or through a “review selection process,” the website says.

Glickman said the department takes all complaints and reviews seriously but noted that some reviews take several years and said that the department has limited resources to conduct such investigations.

A 2002 study funded by the Department of Justice found that about only 36.5 percent of schools reported “crime statistics in a manner that was fully consistent with the Clery Act.”

The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights also investigates allegations of colleges and universities violating Title IX, the federal civil rights law protecting students from general discrimination.

Over the past several years, the number of such complaints related specifically to campus sexual violence has risen, according to data provided by department spokesman Jim Bradshaw.

In the both the 2009 and 2010 fiscal year there were 11 such complaints. There were 18 complaints in 2011 and 17 the following year before the number of complaints spiked to 30 during 2013.

In the department’s current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, there have already been 13 such complaints.

The office said it currently has 39 pending Title IX investigations involving allegations of sexual violence at post-secondary institutions.

Still, experts say more needs to be done to hold schools accountable.

“The Office for Civil Rights is broken,” said Colby Bruno, an attorney at the Victim Rights Law Center in Boston, who runs training programs about the education rights of sexual assault victims and helps some students file federal complaints against their schools.

“The law isn’t really lacking. Where we’re lacking is enforcement,” she added.

Getting Clery data from the Education Department website, especially for years prior to 2005, can be confusing and cumbersome.

Even after the data is found, it’s can be difficult to interpret, in part because schools are given leeway in how they interpret certain aspects of the law and thus how they report. For instance, Glickman said schools “have latitude” in how they determine what areas around their campus to include when they report Clery data.

“To me the data is vitally important because there’s a sense of accountability and I think schools need that,” said Bruno. “Reliable data is also important because we want to see if programming and prevention efforts are working.”

Other past, ongoing efforts to improve Clery

The letter from members of Congress was led by Democrat US Representatives Jackie Speier, of California, and Carolyn Maloney, of New York. The letter also said the office should provide campuses with better guidance about how to respond to same-sex violence and gender identity discrimination.

In recent years, some efforts have been made to improve the effectiveness of the Clery Act.

In a “Dear Colleague Letter” issued April 4, 2011, the federal education department outlined a series of guidelines for how colleges should respond to sexual harassment and violence.

Last year, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed an updated version of the Violence Against Women Act, which added a section called the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, a law setting new standards for how campuses report sex offenses. Schools will need to comply with those new regulations for the first time when they submit Clery reports this coming fall.

And, last week, to go along with the release of a White House report on the prevalence and devastating effects of sexual assault on college campuses, Obama created a task force of senior administration officials who, with input from campus officials, students, advocacy groups and law enforcement, will try to find ways to protect students from rape and sexual assault.

Obama said he the group’s first body of work is due in 90 days.

Advocates for sexual-assault victims say that, to go along with changes at the federal level, they have seen a surge in activism around the issue from students, campus organizations, and alumni.

Particularly, “We’re seeing a lot more victims willing to step forward and publicly talk about what happened to them and using that as a pressure for change,” said Scott Berkowitz, president of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, a Washington, D.C.-based anti-sexual violence organization.

“Hopefully that will put some pressure on colleges about how they deal with it,” he added.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

Tufts alumna trampled to death by elephants in Thailand, authorities say

January 24, 2014 03:34 PM

The body of Tufts University alumna was found in Thailand after authorities believe she was trampled to death by elephants while trying to photograph them, according to news reports.

Lily Glidden’s body was found by park rangers in a wooded area of a reserve outside Bangkok on Saturday, five days after she went missing, according to the Associated Press.

A 70-person team searched for her after she left a campground alone on Jan. 13 and then disappeared in the Kaeng Krachan National Park, which is the country’s largest national park encompassing 1,125 square miles

Authorities said the severity of her injuries indicated she had likely been trampled by elephants, the AP reported. Her body was sent to a medical examiner to determine the cause of death.

"Looking at the pictures she took in her camera, we see a lot of animals, birds, snakes, lizards," police Colonel Woradet Suanklaai told the AP. "We assumed she wanted to take pictures of elephants because that's what the Kaeng Krachan National Park is famous for. We believed she wanted to find them and take some photos."

Family and friends told NBC News Friday that she was a native of Freeville, N.Y., and described her as having a love for wildlife and nature and being a “fearless individual.”

Tufts officials said she earned a degree in biology from the university in 2012, according to NBC News.

The school tweeted Friday afternoon: “We are saddened by the death of Lily Glidden, class of 2012. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.”

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

Obama pledges stand against college sexual assaults

January 22, 2014 02:30 PM


Surviving in Numbers

The numbers are small and large. They symbolize days, months, and years. They describe conversations had and not had. They represent attackers and attacks, scars and bruises, nightmares and suicide attempts.

But most importantly, the numbers illustrate resilience in the face of sexual assault--legal cases won, fears abated, and messages spread.

They inform the sexual assault awareness campaign "Surviving in Numbers," a Tumblr of posters submitted by victims and an exhibit at Massachusetts colleges and universities.

"The numbers are powerful because they give freedom for someone to express their story in the numbers they choose," said Ali Safran, the creator of "Surviving in Number and a Mount Holyoke senior, in November. "They also make it easier from people who are not survivors to understand because numbers are an easy concept."

Here are two striking ones: One in five women has been sexually assaulted at college, a new White House report found, and only 12 percent of student victims report the assault.

President Barack Obama announced Wednesday an initiative to combat sexual assaults, particularly those on college campuses. Obama assigned a newly formed task force of college administrators 90 days to formulate a list of recommendations on preventing and responding to college sexual assaults, reported The Associated Press.

The White House Council on Women and Girls report, entitled "Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action," found that 22 million American woman and 1.6 million men have been victims of sexual assaults. The criminal justice response is often lacking, the report said, due to police bias and inadequate training.

‘‘No one is more at risk of being raped or sexually assaulted than women at our nation’s colleges and universities,’’ said the report.

According to a study of 2013 Clery Act reports, there were 101 reports of forcible sex offenses and one report of a non-forcible sex offense at local colleges and universities.


Forcible sex offenses on Boston-area campuses predominantly occurred in residential buildings.


Reports of sexual assaults on campuses have increased in recent years. In 2010, 68 forcible sex offenses were reported, according to Boston-area colleges' Clery Act reports. At Harvard University, the number of reports nearly doubled between 2011 and 2012.

Harvard University Police Department spokesman Steven Catalano told in September that because rapes are under-reported, he hopes the increase in reported cases means more victims are coming forward and not that more crimes are occurring on campus.

Decreasing the number of cases and making reporting them easier is the goal of Obama's task force.

"The president is committed to solving this problem, not just as president of the United States, but as a father of two girls," senior advisor Valerie Jarrett told the AP.

Safran said her own sexual assault came the year before college. "Surviving in Numbers" was inspired by her recollections of that time.

"I thought about the number of people who I had told my story to with no result," said Safran. "Then, I focused more on the number of things I've done since the assault."

Since it launched in October 2012, "Surviving in Numbers" has received more than 250 anonymous poster submissions. Safran has worked with students at Boston University, Tufts University, and Mount Holyoke College, displaying the signs on campus and offering time and supplies for victims to make one of their own.

Safran said she hopes the Obama administration will elicit survivor input in addressing the prevalence of sexual assaults.

"It’s a great step," she said, of the initiative. "And college campuses are a great place to start."

Younger voters slip away from Obama amid health care missteps, spying disclosures, gridlock

January 12, 2014 09:54 AM

An electric atmosphere took over the University of New Hampshire last Election Day. Students covered sidewalks with messages in chalk, urging students to vote — and to vote for President Obama. Buses and minivans circled campus, shuttling students to the polls.

The efforts paid off: Obama carried Durham, N.H., by a two-to-one vote, on his way to winning the crucial swing state.

A little more than a year later, the mood has changed — alarmingly, for Democratic Party leaders — in a shift that also is reflected in national polls. Students are increasingly turned off by politics, and by the Democratic Party. Even those who were enthusiastic about Obama say they are jaded by gridlock in Washington, disillusioned by a president they thought would be transformational.

“The public has seen that it wasn’t magic,” said Tyler Gullbrand, president of the UNH College Democrats.

Globe subscribers can read the entire story here.

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