TCU Senate gives updates on student projects, processes funding requests

The Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate discussed project updates and supplementary funding requests from multiple student groups at its meeting this Sunday evening.

TCU Senate President Brian Tesser began the proceedings by discussing a meeting last Friday where students spoke to university trustees about student issues that might otherwise be off the trustees’ radars, such as finding off-campus housing.

Next, TCU Senate Parliamentarian Sam Berzok, a junior, talked about a parliamentary workshop that will be held later this week to serve as a review of parliamentary procedure and resolution writing for TCU senators, although no date has been set. He said that discussions regarding Senate bylaws will be opened next week.

Diversity & Community Affairs (DCA) Officer Anna Del Castillo, a sophomore, then took the floor to announce that Chief Diversity Officer Mark Brimhall-Vargas will be in the Coolidge Room for an informal interview session open to students from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. on Friday. She said Brimhall-Vargas is looking for student feedback on a diversity website that will be launched by the university.

Following that, TCU Treasurer Shai Slotky, a junior, made a movement to transfer $50,000 from the Senate’s surplus fund to the supplementary fund, noting that there was only about $10,000 left in the supplementary fund, a figure down from $30,000 the previous week. The transfer of the $50,000 equates to a total expenditure of $70,000, which is roughly the amount spent last year, Slotky said.

A total of five supplementary funding requests then went to the floor for approval. The first was a request from Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), who requested $3,200 to fund three events. The Allocation Board (ALBO) recommendation matched this request, which was passed with a vote of 25-0-1.

The next funding request was from Tufts Essence, which was invited to perform at Boston College for a Black History Month celebration. The group requested funding totaling $37.80 for MBTA passes for its nine members, which ALBO approved. This request passed in a vote of 25-0-1.

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) then requested $500 in funding for 12 of its members to attend a conference at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Because SWE held a big event last semester, ALBO cut the request down to fund the expenses for just six members and readjusted the hotel fees, bringing the funding recommendation down to $460. The ALBO recommendation amount passed 26-0-0.

Next, the African Student Organization (ASO) requested money for 10 of its members to attend a business conference and for an additional five members to attend a banquet and afterparty for the conference. ALBO ultimately decided to cut the request entirely because ASO had $1,200 remaining from a previous event that they were not able to attend, an amount that could cover the members’ conference fees, and TCU funding does not usually cover the $1,100 required to fund the banquet and afterparty. This decision passed in a vote of 26-0-0.

The final request was from the Concert Board, which requested additional funding to secure acts for Spring Fling. Although the initial request for funding was $45,000, ALBO cut this amount to $30,000. In past years, the Concert Board has come short of using its entire budget, which is why ALBO’s recommended funding was cut. Last year, $30,000 was also granted to the Concert Board in supplementary funding. The $30,000 proposal passed with a vote of 25-0-2.

After this, TCU Senate Vice President Gauri Seth, a junior, asked members of Senate to share updates on projects they are working on for the Tufts community. Some of these projects include updating the iJumbo app, adding new language minors, creating a new system to email “Two-Minute Thursday” Senate update videos to the student body, referencing #TheThreePercent movement and issues that the ENVY All-Female Step Team and BlackOut Step Team had with finding space on campus to practice, securing subsidized printing, improving the campus shuttle through developments such as in-shuttle wi-fi service, continuing improvements in Late Night Dining and continuing efforts to promote the creation of Indigenous People’s Day.

Tesser, a senior, then spoke about his work in student housing. He said his four main goals include developing a comprehensive first-year housing survey that focuses on matching students based on living habits rather than individual’s interests, creating a sophomore survey for those seeking roommates, working with the Office of Residential Life and Learning (ResLife) to discuss off-campus housing options and revising mixed-year residential halls.

Trustee Representative Sylvia Ofoma, a junior, then took the floor to discuss the logistics of Tufts’ acquisition of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA), attempts to increase financial aid for students and an increase in student participation in the university conversation surrounding housing.

There was then a short open discussion regarding the acquisition of the SMFA, where Senate members noted that they have little information about the logistics of the transition. For example, one TCU senator said that it is unknown how funding for SMFA student programs will work in conjunction with the current TCU funding process.

The meeting concluded with remarks from a TCU Judiciary representative, who explained that internal elections for open positions will be held on Monday. The representative continued to explain that multiple projects within the TCU Judiciary have been solidified, such as efforts to change and strengthen bylaws, which sometimes lack specificity.