The biannual Cause Dinner, hosted by Tufts Dining Services and Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate and sponsored by Tufts Freethought Society, raised $3,513 for the Justice for Janitors Community Fund on Nov. 17.
Students who attended the Carmichael and Dewick Dining Centers between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. that night had the option to donate money or a meal swipe to the fund.
According to sophomore Joshua Davis, chair of the TCU Services Committee, and sophomore Nathan Foster, treasurer of Tufts Freethought Society, over 1,200 students contributed to the fund.
The Cause Dinner Facebook event page explained that students on unlimited meal plans were not charged at all for donating. Students on a limited meal plan were charged one meal swipe, and students without meal plans could donate $3 in Jumbo Cash or Meal Money. Although the donation money came from Tufts Dining Services, it was up to the students to choose to donate.
According to the online crowdfunding site, Tufts Labor Coalition (TLC) started the Justice for Janitors Community Fund in early September and are gradually closing in on their goal of $8,000. At the moment, the fund has received around $5,700.
“This is an emergency support fund for the Tufts janitors — both those being laid off and those remaining with a severely increased workload,” TLC wrote on youcaring.com. “These workers are a vital part of the university and are as much a part of the community as the students and faculty.”
In the past, the Cause Dinner has supported student groups such as Tufts Timmy Global Health, an organization that works to address global health disparities, and The Thirst Project, a nonprofit organization that provides clean water to individuals in industrializing countries.
“Every semester, we receive a number of applications from different student groups on campus that are philanthropic, and we choose one of these groups to receive funding from Tufts Dining Services,” Davis said. “Everyone on campus is able to donate money without actually incurring any costs, and so every time someone swipes in at either Carm or Dewick, they can contribute an amount to the charity that the Services Committee chooses. It’s one day, and only one meal period.”
Davis explained that the Services Committee selects one philanthropic club or charity to receive Cause Dinner funds after reviewing applications. He explained that the committee decided to benefit the Justice for Janitors Community Fund after noting how important the cause was on campus.
“The Justice for Janitors Community Fund…was an issue that a lot of people on campus care deeply about and we thought it would be a great opportunity for us to create tangible, real change and help people who were…members of the Tufts community,” he said. “We also thought it was a great cause because we knew where all of the money was going to go — to eight workers who are struggling to pay for costs such as housing, living expenses and their families. It would go directly to the families, so we wouldn’t have to worry about things like whether or not the money was going to be reused into advertising, or recycled into that kind of industry.”
According to Foster, who is also a TLC member, TLC contributed to the event by helping to table outside of the dining halls, though the event was sponsored primarily by TCU Senate and Freethought.
Both Davis and Foster reported that the night was a success due to the cooperation among administrators and students.
“We had a really, really good turnout with people energized and helping out with tabling — I think that’s why we raised so much money,” Foster said. “I think there were more than a dozen people who helped out at one point or another, and a lot of people stayed for multiple hours, so the energy of the people [who were] volunteering helped out a lot in raising that much money.”
“Politics aside, it’s an act of compassion, and it’s students caring for people that had once been a part of our community,” Davis said.