Tesser gives statement on student protests, updates on senate projects

President of the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate Brian Tesser opened Sunday night’s Senate meeting with a statement about the ongoing student protests at the University of Missouri (Mizzou) and Yale University over racial injustices on those campuses.

Tesser, a senior, said that it is important for Senate members to take a step back to think and care about the social issues domestically and abroad.

“There are a lot of important things going on in the world right now,” Tesser said. “I think people can get wrapped [up in] their individual daily lives and forget to take a moment to take in what is going on in and around the world … I think that it’s important that we do that as student leaders on campus.”

Tesser then gave a brief statement specifically about the protests at Mizzou and other college campuses across the country. He said that Senate members should think critically about these social issues, emphasizing that in the wake of these protests, it is important for senators to use their position and voice to stand with black students.

“I stand firmly in solidarity with the student protests across the country,” Tesser said. “I also recognize the immense amount of privilege [I have] as a white student on this campus. I ask you all to keep your thoughts [on] these student protests…[and] to work [to create] a campus environment where all students feel safe, valued and respected at Tufts.”

Tesser added that white students such as himself are privileged in the safety and security that they feel on campus.

“As [a] white student on this campus, I am able to walk across campus or attend my classes and feel safe, secure and unthreatened,” he said. “This is not a privilege that all students are afforded.”

After the statement, Tesser spoke about the Senate‘s ad hoc committee that is currently working with administrators to address on-campus and off-campus housing and residential life issues. According to Tesser, the ad hoc committee, which is open for all students, will meet today at 5 p.m. in the Senate office in the Campus Center to prioritize their goals.

“I think housing is such a large issue here … so what I want to do is discuss what we want to put in the top of the list [of priorities] because only so much change can be made at once,” he said. “It’s a slow process … I think there are a lot of short issues we can start advocating for right now.”

Tesser asked senators to spread word of the ad hoc committee and encouraged students to share their opinions during the committee meeting.

TCU Vice President Gauri Seth, a junior, then opened the floor for a project approval from two senators, Women’s Center Community Representative Walae Hayek and Community Outreach Liason Ariel Barbieri-Aghib, who sought approval for a project to make pads and tampons available on campus for free from Health Services.

According to Hayek, a sophomore, the Women’s Center has yet to approve of the project due to lack of information regarding funding.

Both Hayek and Barbieri-Aghib, also a sophomore, spoke about the free condoms that are offered for students around campus, explaining that they think the public health issues surrounding tampons and pads are equally important. According to Hayek, the two senators are working with Health Services to figure out a cost analysis of the project.

The project approval eventually passed by acclamation from the Senate.

Seth took the floor again to remind the senators of the importance of their various Senate projects.

“It’s that time of year where everything is happening everywhere, but don’t let go of your senate projects because you are representing your fellow students, and I consider that to be a privilege,” Seth said.

The meeting concluded with various updates from committee chairs and community representatives.