“I’m running for president because I really believe that this community should be a place where no matter where you’re coming from, no matter what your walk of life is, you are treated in an equitable and just way, and you have everything you need to do well at this university, to feel welcome and enjoy your experience to the fullest,” Grant Gebetsberger said.
Gebetsberger is running to be the TCU Senate President for the 2020–21 school year. Having served as a Class of 2021 senator for the past three years and previously as the TCU Senate’s diversity officer, Gebetsberger is now seeking to expand his involvement in the TCU Senate through the role of president.
Gebetsberger is focusing his campaign around the idea of expanding the scope of the TCU Senate. In addition to continuing projects it has been working on in the past, Gebetsberger also hopes the Senate can work more closely with other student leaders on campus.
“I think that the Senate should be a vehicle and a resource for other students who aren’t in the Senate and for other organizations who are not affiliated with the Senate, who could use it for their activism and organizing,” Gebetsberger said.
For him, this is an issue of equity and advancing issues that the TCU Senate may not usually focus on.
“We have a lot of face time with the administration, and I think [the TCU Senate] should be democratizing that and outreaching really proactively to make sure that we’re not the only ones, and that we’re getting every perspective and including every voice at the table that really needs to be there, to bring that advocacy with the administration to the people,” Gebetsberger said.
Gebetsberger recognizes institutions of higher education can play host to many systemic injustices, but believes that he has the skills and experience to improve Tufts for the student body.
“Having been in the Senate for three years, I’ve built relationships with administrators and I’ve built relationships with other students, and I want to help amplify those voices and bring the table to those people,” Gebetsberger said. “I think that that is how we’re going to fight for a Tufts that is going to be better for everyone.”
An international relations and French double major with an art history minor, Gebetsberger had an interesting path that brought him to Tufts and to the TCU Senate. Originally from Tulsa, Okla., Gebetsberger didn’t hear about Tufts until the summer before his senior year when someone he met at a summer program told him about it. Then, his Tufts alumni interview sealed the deal.
“I saw so much of myself in this person who was interviewing me, and I thought ‘Wow, there’s clearly someone who I identify with who did well at the school, who loved this school,’” Gebetsberger said. “I could see myself there … it was easy to imagine being happy and being a student there.”
Gebetsberger began his involvement with student government while in high school. As a first-generation American in Tulsa who came out as gay at age 13, Gebetsberger found himself in the role of “unofficial spokesperson” for many social justice causes. Not seeing many people who looked like him or who had faced similar experiences in positions of power, Gebetsberger readily joined student government.
When he got to Tufts, Gebetsberger was exposed to bigger challenges and injustices that he hadn’t known about before, and that’s part of what inspired him to run for TCU Senate.
“I saw a student body and an environment where people were going to be really supportive of positive and justice-oriented change, and I wanted to be a part of it from the very beginning,” he said.
In his first year on Senate, Gebetsberger worked alongside senior senators and representatives from the LGBT Center to install gender neutral bathrooms in the Dewick MacPhie Dining Center and the Campus Center. He also helped organize the first budget town hall with President Anthony Monaco, Dean of Arts and Sciences James Glaser and then-Executive Vice President Patricia Campbell where students could ask questions about tuition, costs and resource allocation to Tufts leadership. The third main focus of his first year was arranging a forum on mental health resources on campus.
“We are really lucky to have an amazing team of mental health professionals here, but there just aren’t enough of them. The ones that we have are incredible, but we need more because we have so many students trying to access those resources, but there are really limiting caps on how often students can go,” Gebetsberger said.
In his second year, Gebetsberger’s fellow senators elected him to serve as the Diversity Officer. In that role, he mobilized to address the lack of diversity in Tufts faculty, focusing on recruiting and retaining faculty of color. Gebetsberger continues to promote the issue.
“We still have not made it a priority to recruit and give adequate support to existing faculty of color, which is super important so that students of color know that they’ve got faculty members who share in their experiences and so that they can see that representation in class,” Getsberger said.
He’s also been involved in working with the Group of Six centers. Facing multiple directorship vacancies and a lack of resources, Gebetsberger drafted a resolution to articulate the centers’ needs and establish a new temporary fund to assist with programming costs.
The desire to amplify the voices of Group of Six advocates is part of what drives Gebetsberger’s platform of providing Senate support to other student leaders.
His goal of supporting other student leaders was also inspired by the engagement students showed in dining workers’ efforts to unionize. While Gebetsberger was able to help from the perspective of the Senate, he was moved by the efforts taken by the student body.
“I was so inspired to see thousands of my fellow students marching around out front of Carmichael Hall, that just brought me to tears when I saw it,” Gebetsberger said.
The protests motivated him to seek out more areas where the TCU Senate could assist in ongoing student efforts.
“What it needs to do more and what I want it to do more is to identify those projects and those groups that are doing really huge things on campus like organizing to divest from fossil fuels, like organizing to support our dining workers, and I think we should be proactive in offering our support in any way that those groups would see fit,” he said.
More of what Gebetsberger stands for and the policies he supports can be found under the “Platform” section of gowithgrant.org. However, Gebetsberger made clear that his platform is not limited to what’s found there.
“There are going to be projects that aren’t on my platform and there are going to be projects that no senator has even thought of. But the Senate as a whole, I want to make into a body and a place that empowers and amplifies those other voices from outside so that we’re multiplying the impact that we can have,” he said.
Gebetsberger knows that magnifying the voices of other student leaders will be challenging, but believes that the Senate has the ability and obligation to do so.
“We should act as a body to make that happen,” Gebetsberger said.