TCU Senate passes resolution to make Asian American Center more accessible

Last night, the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate unanimously passed a resolution urging Tufts to relocate Asian-American identity-based housing from the Asian American Center to make the center more accessible to the community as a whole. The resolution was authored by Ana Sofia Amieva-Wang, TCU Historian Jacqueline Chen, Diversity and Community Affairs Officer Shannon Lee and Asian American Community Senator Charlie Zhen. The body also heard community updates and funding requests.

TCU President Benya Kraus opened the meeting. After explaining the meeting’s agenda, she provided election updates, announcing that the Class of 2018, Class of 2019 and LGBTQ+ Community Senator elections will take place next semester. Kraus, a senior, also mentioned the Office of Residential Life and Learning (ResLife)’s efforts to increase and improve on-campus housing options, such as the renovations of Miller Hall and the bed optimization plan.

Chen, a junior, read the full resolution. TCU Parliamentarian Adam Rapfogel, a junior, then invited the authors of the resolution to speak on its behalf. Amieva-Wang, a junior and an intern at the Asian American Center, emphasized that many Asian-American-identifying students have never been to the center. Amieva-Wang also said that part of her job as an intern in the center is simply to open the locked door when people knock. Amieva-Wang pointed out that the locked door creates a barrier for visitors, and can make the center the inaccessible and unwelcoming.

Amieva-Wang added that the locked door prioritizes the students who live in the house over the entire community, and makes it difficult for the clubs of the Pan Asian Council (PAC) to find meeting spaces, when it would be much more convenient for them to have access to the center. Amieva-Wang then read quotes from other students highlighting the problems with the center and expressing support for the resolution. In conclusion, Amieva-Wang reiterated that the Asian American Center has the potential to serve as an inclusive community space, but it needs to be made more accessible.

Rapfogel then opened the floor for a question-and-answer period, during which senators asked questions related to student demand for the initiative, plans and timeframes for moving the current residents of the house and collaboration with the administration.

Zhen, a junior, emphasized that the resolution is a first step toward making the center more accessible, and that this initiative will hopefully be implemented next fall. After the questions had been answered, the body voted on the resolution. The resolution was passed 21–0–0.

The body then moved on to committee updates. Kraus spoke on behalf of TCU Vice President and senior Anna del Castillo, who Kraus said has been collaborating with Administration & Policy Committee Chair Jamie Neikrie on holding a town hall about budget transparency. The town hall will be held on Dec. 5 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the Alumnae Lounge and will feature a panel including University President Anthony Monaco, Executive Vice President Patricia Campbell, Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences James Glaser and Provost David Harris.

Education Committee Chair Phil Miller mentioned a new project to introduce a data science major. Vice Provost for Research Simin Nikbin Meydani told the Daily in an interview earlier this month that she hopes to have a data science major available in the School of Engineering by fall 2018. Miller also said that another goal is to work on establishing similar majors and minors in the School of Arts & Sciences.

Class of 2021 Senator Grant Gebetsberger brought up collaboration with the administration on a pilot program for Tufts students to return to their home states as ambassadors, focusing on underrepresented communities. The ambassadors would visit schools that might not otherwise receive visits from Tufts during breaks. Gebetsberger said that this would be underway by next fall. Addressing senators’ concerns about compensation for these student ambassadors, Gebetsberger said that students would receive some compensation for food and transportation, but would not be paid as of now.

Class of 2021 Senator Janey Litvin brought up her collaboration with Kraus on initiating pub nights at The Rez, and announced that they met with Director of Dining and Business Services Patti Klos about starting a pilot program in January. Litvin explained that the pub nights will be designed to center around an event such as a poetry slam to create a relaxed environment, not to encourage heavy drinking.

TCU Treasurer and junior Emily Sim opened the floor to discuss funding requests, several of which included year-long budgets for organizations. After debate and some modifications of the request from Tufts Trading Fund, the body approved funding requests from Action for Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP), Teach-in CORES, TEDx Tufts, Spoken Word Alliance at Tufts (SWAT) and Tufts Ballroom Team.

Lee announced that Associate Dean of Student Success and Advising Robert Mack expressed optimism about the creation of a First Generation Center. Lee said that more public information will become available later.

To conclude, Kraus announced that the body will hear the tabled request from Tufts Republicans to bring former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro to campus as a speaker during the Dec. 3 meeting.  


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