TCU Senate passes resolution on gender-neutral bathrooms

Last night in the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room, the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate passed a resolution pressuring the university to provide more gender-neutral bathrooms and heard supplementary funding requests.

TCU Vice President Anna Del Castillo opened the meeting in place of TCU President Benya Kraus, who was absent last night. Del Castillo, a senior, opened the floor for TCU Parliamentarian Adam Rapfogel to introduce discussion of the resolution.

The resolution calls for the university to “build single-stalled, all gender inclusive restrooms in public instructional and student resource buildings, with urgent attention directed to the Campus Center, Dewick MacPhie, and Carmichael Dining Hall,” noting there are not gender neutral bathrooms in these high-traffic locations.

In explaining the need for more gender-neutral bathrooms, the resolution notes that Tufts’ non-discrimination policy covers transgender identity, cites that Tufts is rated one of the top schools for LGBTQ students, and refers to a study which found transgender individuals have experienced negative health effects as a result of avoiding public restrooms.  The resolution explains that out of 554 restrooms on campus, 350 are single-stall, and 58 of these single-stall restrooms have signage that assumes a single gender or gender binary.

The resolution also says that “gender-inclusive restrooms have benefits for a wide range of people, including trans identifying individuals, caregivers of children who are a different gender from them, and individuals with disabilities who have personal attendants who are different gender from them.”

Rapfogel, a junior, introduced the resolution and reviewed the resolution process for senators in attendance. TCU Historian and junior Jacqueline Chen read the text of the resolution. Following a brief discussion on non-substantive changes and grammar of the text, the body entered the debate phase, but quickly passed the resolution by acclamation after a brief discussion.

Next, committee chairs took the floor to give updates. Administration & Policy Committee Chair Jamie Neikrie, a senior, said that his committee is working to host a town hall on tuition and budget transparency, featuring university administrators. Neikrie told the body that the town hall will likely be a 90-minute-long event, in which 60 minutes will be dedicated to open discussion between students and the university administrators.

Education Committee Chair Phil Miller, a sophomore, shared the changes that will take place in a new credit-hour system that the university will adopt, starting next fall. According to Miller, the current credit system will translate into a credit-hour system, in which classes will count for between two and five credit hours. In the new system, students in the School of Arts and Sciences will need 120 credit hours to graduate.

While departments had the option to petition for some classes to count for more than the standard three credit hours, the English Department was the only one that did not petition to have its classes count for more credit hours, according to Miller. There were no notable updates from Services Committee or Outreach Committee.

Next, TCU Treasurer Emily Sim took the floor to introduce supplementary funding requests.

The body voted to match the initial recommendations of the Allocations Board (ALBO) for the following groups: $200 in funding to the Tufts Primary Care Progress for a dinner event connecting Tufts medical students with undergraduate students, $600 in funding to the Tufts Observer for a speaker event and $1,400 in funding to Tufts sQ! for its tour in Chicago in January 2018.

Meanwhile, Miller, on behalf of TCU Textbook Exchange, requested $3,122 in funding for its budget, and ALBO recommended to provide $2,672. Several senators debated the request on the grounds that the funding would partially go toward paying student helpers assisting with the program, yet the Textbook Exchange has not yet asked for volunteers from within the Senate. After a roughly 20-minute-long debate period, the body voted to match ALBO’s initial recommendation to provide $2,672 in funding, with 17 in favor and eight opposed.

Lastly, Del Castillo told the Daily that the special election to fill the vacancies in Class of 2018 Senators and LGBTQ+ Community Senator has been postponed to next semester, due to scheduling issues, and also to give those who are returning to campus next semester an opportunity to run.