TCU Senate discusses meal plan changes, Strategic Plan

The Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate met for the last time this semester in the Sophia Gordon Hall Multipurpose Room on Sunday, Dec. 11 to discuss a resolution, supplementary funding requests and its Strategic Plan.

The meeting opened with TCU Senate President Gauri Seth welcoming everyone to the last meeting. Immediately following that, TCU Senate Treasurer Chris Leaverton introduced supplementary funding requests from various student groups.

The Spoken Word Alliance at Tufts asked for funding for a writing workshop and performance, open mic nights and a national conference in Chicago. The Allocations Board (ALBO) cut some of the travel and board costs for the national conference and senators passed ALBO’s recommendation by acclamation.

The next request came from the Society of Women Engineers to attend a conference in Pittsburgh. ALBO cut travel costs and factored in personal contributions and its recommendation also passed by acclamation.

Afterwards, TCU Senate reviewed a request from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Society to attend a convention in Boston, and ALBO funded them fully. The recommendation passed by acclamation.

Tufts Association of South Asians (TASA) had the next request, asking to participate in a Garba-Raas competition at the University of California, Irvine. ALBO cut down TASA’s funding request by factoring in personal contributions, and because of this, the recommendation was objected to. The body then moved into a debate over whether additional personal contributions should be included because TASA already factored and labeled ‘team personal contributions’ into their request. Ultimately, the ALBO recommendation passed with 20 in favor and nine opposed.

The Catholic Community at Tufts then requested to add three more people to their spring retreat, and the ALBO recommendation matched their request. It passed with 25 in favor, two opposed and one abstention.

Wuzee, a newly-recognized Chinese fusion dance group, was the next item with their 2017 fiscal year budget. ALBO cut the costs of some items in the budget because they were overestimated, and the recommendation passed by acclamation.

Next, representatives from the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) came in to appeal ALBO’s funding recommendation for an annual winter ice skating event. ALBO factored in personal contributions when they made their recommendation, but ALAS appealed this on the grounds that several members would be unable to pay this personal expense.

The body moved into an automatic debate after the ALAS representatives’ appeal, where three amounts of funding were voted on. First, the ALBO recommendation failed to pass, which was followed by a motion to increase the funding by cutting the personal contribution in half. There was an objection to this, thus resulting in another debate period, after which this amount also failed. The last proposition was to get rid of the personal contribution altogether, which was also objected to. After the last debate, the final amount passed in a vote of 18 for and 11 against.

The final funding request was from the Sino-U.S. Relations Group Engagement to fund speakers for a symposium, which ALBO recommended funding in full. The recommendation passed by acclamation.

The next order of business was a resolution written by Senator Arden Fereshetian calling for the current meal plan system to be reformed so that on-campus dining is more affordable for everyone.

The resolution suggested allowing unused meal swipes to roll over from the fall semester to the spring semester, increasing the dollar allowances at Hodgdon Food-on-the-Run, repricing food at Hodgdon to the nearest 25-cent equivalent, offering more meal deals at Hodgdon and making meal plan pricing more transparent.

TCU Senate Historian Rati Srinivasan read the resolution and TCU Senate Parliamentarian Adam Rapfogel ran the discussion. After Fereshetian, a junior, described his resolution, the body moved into a question-and-answer period, after which the body voted. The resolution passed by a vote of 27 for, none against and no abstentions.

After the resolution, Rapfogel, a sophomore, talked about Late Night Study at Carmichael Dining Center, which ran until Thursday, Dec. 15.

Diversity and Community Affairs Officer Benya Kraus took the floor next to ask Community Senators for any updates.

Asian American Community Senator Jacqueline Chen briefly discussed the success of the Pan-Asian Council FormalLGBTQ+ Community Senator Parker Breza talked about working with the Culture, Ethnicity, Community Affairs (CECA) Committee to sell shirts in support of water protectors at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, with all proceeds going to the water protectors.

Kraus, a junior, then recognized Chen, a sophomore, as well as Senators Celeste Teng and Shannon Lee, for their success with their meal bank program, through which students can donate meal swipes to a pool which can be accessed by any student. The program will be implemented next semester, Kraus said.

Next up, TCU Senate Vice President Shai Slotky took the floor to ask for committee updates.

The Education Committee described its progress throughout the semester, especially its work on the electoral studies minor, Spanish and French minors and the return of the linguistics minor. They also provided updates on the lack of resources surrounding computer science, a look into how departments are funded, graduation distribution requirements and a textbook exchange.

The Administration and Policy Committee said its members are working on a special interest housing meal project, sanctuary campus items, janitor equality, club sports details and engaging with people outside Senate for project ideas.

The Student Outreach Committee focused on Two-Minute Thursdays, while the Services Committee focused on the Thanksgiving Turkey Shuttle and Carmichael Dining Center Late Night Study. CECA said it is honing in on student economic and security issues broadly, and on supporting indigenous students and movements.

Seth, a senior, said that she has been working on changes to the Office of Residential Life and Learning, namely with the Resident Assistant (RA) position. Beginning next year, RAs for first-year students will be focused on community building with less of a policing tone. Additionally, resident Community Development Advisors will focus on improving community for upperclassmen.

Slotky, a senior, took the floor again to say that committees will be reshuffled going into next semester in order to equalize the number of senators in each.

Slotky concluded by talking about the newly developed Strategic Plan for the Senate, which will evaluate Senate’s internal and external functions. The creation of this plan began in October with the formation of a Strategic Planning Committee, which consists of Senators Slotky, Kraus, Chen, Breza, Emily Sim, Claudia Aliff, Claudia Mihm, Sylvia Ofoma, Malachy Donovan, Nesi Altaras and Kevin Gleason.

“The Senate will reassess its core values and mission in order for our body to most effectively serve and advocate on behalf of the undergraduate student community,” Slotky told the Daily in an electronic message.

According to Slotky, the committee is analyzing the general student body’s experiences and concerns with Senate and Senate’s internal inefficiencies. It is looking at the TCU Constitution, Senate bylaws, Treasury procedures and committee functions. The ultimate goal, Slotky says, is to provide a set of recommended improvements, on both a short-term and a long-term scale.

The meeting then adjourned and moved into its closed session.