TCU Senate holds last meeting of the year

The Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate met for the last time this semester in the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room Sunday night, to discuss budget approvals, two resolutions, bylaw changes and final addresses.

The meeting began with two Tufts administrators who spoke about their work and answered questions from the Senate body. The first visitor was Director of Community Standards Kevin Kraft, who oversees judicial processes of the Tufts community. He took questions from the Senate body, several of which centered on the role of student activism.

Next, Michael Baenen, University President Anthony Monaco’s chief of staff, spoke about the work being done by the Mental Health Task Force. The task force has conducted one-on-one interviews with several faculty members, is but now looking for input from the student body through student groups and one-on-one conversations, according to Baenen.

The next order of business was to approve the budgets for the next fiscal year for each of the nine student group councils. Each council encompasses a different category of student groups and each was budgeted by a member of the Allocations Board (ALBO)All budgets passed by acclamation.

The next section was a discussion about two resolutions.

TCU Senate Parliamentarian Adam Rapfogel took the floor to introduce a resolution written in part by members of Tufts Students for National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), which aimed to expand reproductive health services on campus. It argued that the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) and Health Service should provide more informational material about their services.

It also called on Tufts to offer Plan B for free, to use gender-neutral language online and to expand Jumbo’s Condom Circus so that contraceptives are available in all dormitories.

After TCU Senate Historian Rati Srinivasan read through the resolution, the authors had a few minutes to speak. They explained that there is currently a lack of knowledge about and access to reproductive healthcare on campus, and that their goal is to increase transparency about the available services, the costs of these services and how to obtain them.

They also talked about how Jumbo’s Condom Circus’ products are not immediately available because they must be requested, so they would like to supply dorm buildings with supplies and create a system of “Safe Sex Reps” to replenish the supplies.

After a brief question-and-answer period during which senators asked about the accessibility of Plan B, the details of the Safe Sex Reps, the health services fee and other topics, senators voted on the resolution. It passed by acclamation.

The next order of business was “A Resolution Calling for Tufts University to End Investments in The Israeli Occupation.” After more than three hours of debate and questions, the resolution passed with 17 in favor, six against and eight abstaining.

Next, sophomore Senator Charlie Zhen took the floor to talk about the creation of a First-Generation Community Senator position. He explained that he wants someone on the body to represent first-generation students, making Senate and Tufts as a whole more accessible to the first-generation community. There were no questions about the position, and the proposal passed by acclamation.

The next order of business was four bylaw changes. Rapfogel, a sophomore, described each, after which the body voted. The first was to add a description for the newly created First-Generation Community Senator, which passed by acclamation.

The second change was a clause stating that any senator can recuse themselves from a vote if they cannot be objective or have a conflict of interest in a funding matter. This change also passed by acclamation.

The third bylaw was to change the voting procedure, modifying the definition of majority. The change proposed that, for a resolution to pass, the number of votes in favor must exceed the sum of votes against and abstentions. Currently, only a simple majority needs to pass, with abstentions not counting.

When this change was moved, it was objected to, leading to a short debate primarily on what it means to abstain from a vote. The change failed in a vote of 19 in favor and 13 against, which did not meet the two-thirds majority requirement.

The last change was to modify Senate language such that the role of Community Representative would be called Community Senator, and this quickly passed by acclamation.

TCU Senate Vice President Shai Slotky then took the floor to discuss the finalized Strategic Plan, which he said was not complete but allows for feasible action to be taken to improve Senate. The plan will officially be presented to the next Senate as a guideline.

Slotky, a senior, then asked for committee updates. Student Outreach Committee Chair Jacqueline Chen said the committee is compiling a catalog of Senators’ projects throughout the year. Services Committee Chair Kevin Gleason said the committee is continuing to push for JumboCash to be accepted at more venues.

Finally, Culture, Ethnicity, Community Affairs Committee Chair Benya Kraus discussed several projects including alumni networking, the Indigenous Studies minor, institutionalization of Indigenous Peoples’ Day and a consent culture student workshop.

Senator Philip Miller briefly talked about the new textbook exchange program, which will take place in the Campus Center from May 1-8. Trustee Representative Gregory Chin then brought up his work to get funding for a First-Generation Community Center.

The last order of business was for Treasurer Chris Leaverton, Kraus and TCU President Gauri Seth to give their final addresses: the State of the Treasury, the State of Diversity and Community Affairs (DCA) and the State of the TCU.

Leaverton, a sophomore, thanked ALBO and said that he realized how passionate Tufts students are and how much they care about their organizations. Kraus, a junior, then discussed the feelings of hardship and stress that had been palpable at the night’s meeting as well as the tensions and struggles throughout the world, emphasizing that people must continue to care for one another and to continue the work they are doing.

Finally, Seth, a senior, gave her address. She brought up the restructuring of the Office of Residential Life and Learning. She said there is still much work to be done, referencing issues with club sports, financial aid and the bursar’s office. She ended by saying she has a deep-rooted love for the school and a sense of belonging and that it had been an honor to serve as president for the past year.

The meeting then adjourned.

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