TCU Senate passes sanctuary state resolution, discusses supplementary funding requests

The Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate met last night in the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room to discuss supplementary funding requests and a resolution supporting the Safe Communities Act, a bill that would make Massachusetts a sanctuary state.

TCU Senate President Gauri Seth opened the meeting by asking for committee updates.

The Administration and Policy Committee Chair Sylvia Ofoma said that the committee met with the student group leading the tobacco-free campus initiative, and junior Senator Arden Fereshetian is making progress on his dining plan resolution which passed last semester. The policy will be implemented next semester.

Fereshetian’s resolution called on Tufts to offer a 120-swipe meal plan, the opportunity to change meal plans until the course drop deadline and a more economical pricing system at Hodgdon Food-on-the-Run.

The Services Committee is working on getting reusable containers for the Pax et Lox Glatt Kosher Deli and Hodgdon, according to committee chair Kevin Gleason, while the Education Committee is picking finalists for Professor of the Year next week, committee chair Nesi Altaras said. The Education Committee is also working to introduce French and Spanish minors.

The Culture, Ethnicity, Community Affairs Committee is moving along with its projects to streamline and publicize Tufts Health Service’s sexual and reproductive health offerings and to better incorporate Residential Assistants (RAs) into consent culture conversations throughout the school year, according to Diversity and Community Affairs Officer Benya Kraus.

Additionally, Sophomore Senator Charlie Zhen is looking into removing residences from the Asian American Center, because he has heard of a lack of accessibility since the building is locked to those who do not either live in the center or work there.

Treasurer Chris Leaverton then took the floor to discuss supplementary funding requests. Requests came from Tufts Energy Group, the Queer Students Association, Jewish Queer Students at Tufts, the American Society of Chemical Engineers, Chabad and the Russian and Slavic Students Association. All Allocations Board (ALBO) recommendations for those groups passed by acclamation.

The body then heard an appeal from Tufts Synthetic Biology to attend a genetic engineering conference in Boston in September. The group requested funding for the registration fee, but Treasury policies do not allow funding for events and activities that do not take place in the same fiscal year as the request. This rule can be overturned by a 2/3 vote of ALBO, but it failed in a vote of 3-5. Synthetic Biology then decided to appeal to the Senate body as a whole, as TCU Senate’s decision would overrule ALBO.

Synthetic Biology explained to the body that the group has tried other avenues to get the funding, but none worked. After explaining the situation, the body then moved into a debate and later voted. The proposition to fund the group $0 failed, so the registration fee of $4,500 was put on the table and then objected to.

The body then moved into debate again. The total debate period lasted about an hour and involved much discussion over whether the group should be treated as a research group or competition team, if the group could receive funding from elsewhere, whether the money will be used for current students and generally if would be valid to overturn the Treasury Procedure Manual.

The debate eventually concluded with a call to question, and the amount of $4,500 passed in a vote of 15 in support and 14 against with zero abstentions.

The body then moved into discussing a resolution written by Senator Olivia Dehm, Asian American Community Senator Jacqueline Chen, Latino Community Senator Leticia Priebe and Senator Anna Del Castillo that called for TCU Senate, the Tufts administration and University President Anthony Monaco to support the Safe Communities Act.

The bill, which is being considered by the Massachusetts State Legislature, would bar all law enforcement agencies in the state from working with federal immigration officials to help detain and deport undocumented immigrants. There was a very brief question and answer period, after which the resolution passed with one abstention.

The body then moved back into supplementary funding requests, since they were put on hold by the appeal. Requests came from Baseball Analysis at Tufts and the New Initiative for Middle East Peace; the ALBO recommendations for both groups passed by acclamation.

The body then moved into a brief closed session.

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