Disclaimer: Jake Taber is a former managing editor at The Tufts Daily. He is no longer involved in the Daily.
The Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate met last night in the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room to provide committee updates, learn about how the Senate can enhance environmental efforts on campus, hear a funding appeal, approve supplementary funding requests and vote on a resolution to extend the pass-fail deadline.
TCU President Benya Kraus, a senior, began the meeting, discussing last week’s Senate General Interest Meeting (GIM) along with information regarding the upcoming elections. She said that candidate positions would be filled that night, allowing for senator positions to be filled shortly. Additionally, she mentioned that there would be a candidates’ meeting prior to the elections on Feb. 7.
Kraus reported that, during a meeting with Associate Director of Housing Operations Matt Austin, he informed her that the housing waiting list has 500 students, and that the Office of Residential Life and Learning (ResLife) expects to offer housing to 100 to 150 of these students. She mentioned that while this figure is similar to past years, it is the first year that ResLife has disclosed these numbers.
Next, Class of 2021 Senator Mateo Gomez took the floor to introduce guest speaker Shoshana Blank, Outreach and Education Program Administrator at the Office of Sustainability. She was the first of four speakers addressing environmental issues with the Senate.
Blank discussed her role, which includes giving several weekly presentations to Tufts employees from various departments and also to lead the Eco-Reps program. Eco-Reps facilitate compost systems in every dorm and manage sustainability education and events. She mentioned that the Eco-Reps program at Tufts, which began in 2001, was one of the first in the nation, and that many other universities around the country have followed suit.
Blank then transitioned to discuss Tufts’ commitment to the 2013 Campus Sustainability and Council Report, although she also mentioned that the specifics of this commitment are still being discussed. She added that, in order to reach this goal, Tufts plans to reduce its overall waste by 3 percent on average each year. Blank concluded by stating that Tufts has chosen to adhere to the goals of the Paris climate agreement, and the university is a member of the “We Are Still In” coalition.
Class of 2021 Senator Rebeca Becdach then took the floor to introduce guest speaker President and Head Mechanic of Tufts Bikes Dylan Guydish.
Guydish, a senior, explained the purpose of Tufts Bikes, an on-campus bicycle-sharing system with an inventory of bikes that can be rented by students for free using their Tufts IDs. He added that Tufts bikes has two shelters and a campus repair shop on Sawyer Avenue. Guydish continued by discussing the group’s problems with administration crackdowns, and mentioned that Tufts Bikes was almost discontinued last year due to a lack of leadership. However, he said that Tufts Bikes has gotten back on its feet and now boasts 15 active members who run the shop for six hours per week. Although Tufts Bikes continues to struggle with membership, Guydish said, the group believes they have gained valuable visibility and are on an upward trend.
Gomez then took the floor to introduce guest speaker Madeleine Clarke, the Tufts Food Rescue Collaborative (TFRC) Volunteer Coordinator.
Clarke, a sophomore, discussed the role of the TFRC, an on-campus initiative that partners with Food for Free, an organization in Cambridge that recovers wasted food and redistributes it to local food pantries and soup kitchens. She elaborated that through the TFRC, Tufts student volunteers are trained in food safety and work shifts in the dining halls in order to minimize food waste and food insecurity in the local community. Clarke then discussed how the Rescue Collaborative, along with partners Food for Free, Somerville Homeless Coalition, and Project Food Pantry, takes surplus food from Carmichael and Dewick-Macphie Dining Halls to be redistributed among underserved communities. She mentioned that the group made 647 meals last semester, and donated a lot of surplus food from the dining halls to Food for Free.
Becdach introduced the final guest speaker Jake Taber, (LA ’17), who is currently working as a Clean Energy Fellow for Environment America, an environmental advocacy nonprofit.
Taber discussed his work and mentioned that he is working towards mobilizing universities across the country, including Tufts, to commit to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. He talked about Environment America’s work on broad issues affecting Americans from coast to coast, including introducing bills at the state level. Taber went on to discuss the merit of involving universities in the efforts, noting that universities are centers of thought and innovation that frequently inspire surrounding communities and facilitate nationwide trends. He said he believes that if Tufts commits to 100 percent renewable energy, it could begin a statewide domino effect. Taber concluded by mentioning that he is holding a meeting on Jan. 31 to generate community support and would like to work on a TCU Senate resolution asking to Tufts to commit to 100 percent renewable energy.
Gomez then opened up the floor for a short question period directed at each of the guest speakers.
Then TCU Senate heard a funding appeal from the C. Stacey Woods Programming Board, a group working to promote evangelic Christian programming on campus. The organization planned to host a disaster relief service trip to Houston this coming spring break. The trip will involve 10 hours of manual labor per day and will incorporate interfaith discussions.
The coordinators of the trip decided to appeal the TCU Senate Allocations Board’s (ALBO) decision to provide $1,740 in funding for the group, intended on funding a maximum on six people to go on the trip per Senate policy, in an attempt to receive the $10,710 in funding that would allow them to instead send 18 students on the trip. They stated that they believe this trip has been life changing for students, in addition to providing vital service to communities in desperate need of assistance.
Class of 2020 Senator and ALBO member Malcolm Akinje mentioned that he is in favor of providing the extra funding for the trip. He mentioned that Senate has waived the six-person Executive Board capacity rule in the past for other trips such as networking events, and he believes that this trip would provide major benefits to communities in need by allowing more students to participate.
Class of 2020 Senator and ALBO Member Kevin Gleason disagreed, arguing that senate has been granting too many exemptions to student organizations regarding the maximum six-person capacity rule.
Class of 2020 Senator and Associate Treasure of ALBO Finn McGarghan supported Gleason’s disapproval of the appeal. He said that because the trip is set to happen annually, the $10,000 plus funding request is not a sound fiscal possibility at a yearly rate.
Class of 2020 Senator Charlie Brogdon-Tent asked the trip coordinators if they had sought other sources of funding, to which they replied that while they are seeking funding from various sources, they plan to go through the university channels first.
Following a period of more questions and answers, the Senate voted on the funding appeal. With 11 in favor and 14 opposed, the motion did not pass.
After Administration and Policy Committee Chair and senior Jamie Neikrie suggested facilitating a compromise, the Senate then decided to discuss the possibility of providing $3,480 to the trip, meant to provide the funds for 12 students to participate in the trip rather than 16 or 18.
The trip coordinators said that while Senate was voting on providing the funds for 12 participants, they would still try to find funding so 18 students could attend. Class of 2021 TCU Senator Grant Gebetsberger stated that he opposed the motion because the Senate has said no to other organizations with similar arguments and intentions.
ALBO member and junior Emma Phillips agreed, arguing that student activities funds are used for initiatives directly affecting the Tufts campus, and that she does not see how sending 18 rather than six students would make a difference in this regard.
TCU Vice President Anna Del Castillo, a senior, said that she does not mind providing funds given the scale of the disaster in Houston and the service benefits of providing more hands for assistance.
After hearing a few more opinions for and against allocating these funds, the Senate voted on the motion, which did not pass, with eight in favor and 16 opposed.
The Senate then voted on the possibility of providing $5,220 in funds to the trip, which did not pass, with seven in favor and 17 opposed.
Because none of the possible funding amounts passed, the Senate then decided to vote whether or not to table the appeal.
The motion to table the appeal passed with 17 in favor and seven opposed.
The Treasury then opened the floor to a vote on whether to match ALBO’s initial recommendations for the following groups: Tufts Pulse Dance Team, Amnesty International, Tufts Quidditch Team, Quest Scholars, Action for Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Tufts Hillel.
Tufts Pulse Dance Team‘s request of $840 to attend a competition, Amnesty International’s request of $1,408 to attend a conference, Tufts Quidditch Team’s request of $3,622 to attend a national competition, Quest Scholars‘ request of $540 to attend a conference and Hillel’s request for bus transportation for a freshman retreat of $718 were all passed by acclamation. ASAP’s request of $4,300 to book playwright and activist Heather Marlowe at Tufts was passed with 23 in favor and one opposed, and SJP’s request of $345 to attend the Jewish Voice for Peace Student Leadership Retreat was passed with 25 in favor and zero opposed.
Del Castillo took the floor to discuss committee updates.
Then, Brogdon-Tent thanked the Executive Board of the Tufts Textbook Exchange for selling over $93,000 worth of textbooks and saving students over $77,400.
Then, Class of 2018 Senator Jordan Kemp discussed the new CoUrbanize website, part of the Brown and Blueprint initiative, that allows students to post feedback regarding helps, hindrances and general observations about buildings at Tufts. He noted that this website is unable to provide anonymity for student comments.
TCU Historian and junior Jacqueline Chen filled in for Parliamentarian and junior Adam Rapfogel to open the floor to vote on S.18-1: A Resolution Calling on Tufts University to Extend the Pass-Fail Deadline for all Students.
Assistant Treasurer and ALBO member Sharif Hamidi spoke in support of extending the pass-fail deadline from five weeks into the semester to 10 weeks for sophomores, juniors and seniors. Hamidi, a first-year, went on to mention that if passed, the university community would have the chance to vote on its implementation.
After a 10-minute question and answer period, the resolution was passed with 25 in favor and 0 opposed.
The floor was opened to community senator updates, where Africana Community Senator and senior Fatima Ajose spoke about her work to increase major declarations in ethnic studies, including Africana Studies, Asian American studies and other departments.
Lastly, Kraus allowed for an open forum, where Women’s Community Senator and ALBO member Michelle Delk argued for a more transparent relationship between ALBO members and the rest of TCU Senate. Delk, a sophomore, expressed disappointment in the fact that the C. Stacey Woods Programming Board appeal had been tabled.
The meeting then adjourned.