TCU Senate hears funding appeals, discusses Tufts’ economic metrics

The Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate met in the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room to hear funding requests and one appeal, view a presentation on Tufts’ economic metrics and share community updates.

TCU President and senior Benya Kraus opened the meeting and welcomed the newly elected TCU Senators: LGBTQ Community Senator Kathleen Lanzilla, a first-year; Class of 2019 Senators Jonah O’Mara Schwartz and Steven Honig; and Latinx Community Senator Maya Velasquez.

The newly elected senators then each gave brief introductions and shared their visions for their Senate careers.

Following that, the meeting moved into the TCU Treasury section and the Senate opened the floor to Maggie Van Scoy, a first-year, to hear a funding appeal for Tufts University Social Collective (TUSC) for Tuftonia’s Day. The appeal had been tabled in last week’s meeting, and Allocations Board (ALBO) had recommended allocating $12,000.

Van Scoy addressed the senate by requesting additional funding for an increase in the quality of carnival rides to ensure that students attend the event for longer periods of time. She added that TUSC also plans to increase the number of food trucks, as a common complaint about last year’s Tuftonia’s Day was the long lines for food trucks. Van Scoy said that TUSC spent less on Fall Gala and Winter Ball than in previous years, and as a result believes an increase in funding for Tuftonia’s Day is reasonable. Lastly, Van Scoy noted that TUSC presented a sheet that fully disclosed how the funds would be used as during the last meeting, Senate asked for further clarification.

After a brief question-and-answer period, the senate then moved to a vote and decided to adhere to ALBO’s recommended funding of $12,000, 25–1–1.

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

The body voted to match the initial ALBO funding recommendations for the following groups: $292 for Children of Cultures of Africa (COCOA) for transportation, $150 for the Tufts Economics Society to develop a new Wix website for the group, $62 for the Tufts Real Estate Society to help fund their general spring budget, $980 for Tufts sQ! for transportation to a performance at a hospital in Waltham along with their five-day tour and A Cappella Fest at Deerfield Academy, $232 to the Catholic Community at Tufts for transportation to a spring retreat, $880 to the Association of Multiracial People at Tufts to fund speakers and purchase food for events, $780 to Tufts Labor Coalition to attend a United Students Against Sweatshops conference and $1,731 to Friends of Israel to attend the Israeli American Council Conference.

Kraus then took the floor to share updates. She noted that new Elections Commission (ECOM) bylaw changes will now allow ECOM to appoint unopposed senators instead of holding an election, as described in a recent Daily article. Kraus added that there will be a GIM for prospective Class of 2020 Senators today at 9 p.m. in Braker 001, along with a candidates’ meeting this coming Wednesday at 9 p.m. She ended by noting that the Ginn Library, due to high levels of usage by undergraduate students, wants to assess the availability of study spaces on campus.

TCU Vice President Anna Del Castillo, a senior, then opened the floor to community updates.

TCU Class of 2021 Senator Janey Litvin then took the floor to note that the Tisch Library is considering installing printers in dorms and that Boston Burger Company plans to accept JumboCash in the future.

Assistant Treasurer Sharif Hamidi told the body that the resolution to extend the pass-fail deadline to ten weeks into the semester for all students, regardless of class year, has passed a faculty vote.

The Senate then moved to hear an affordability metric discussion led by TCU Trustee Representative Nathan Foster.

Foster, a senior, noted that he wants to advocate for tuition affordability, especially for students of lower-income brackets. He mentioned that he spoke with the Board of Trustees about this. The Board of Trustees communicated to him that Tufts compares their tuition to other schools and tries to match it accordingly.

Foster shared data from 2013 that only 2.9 percent of Tufts students come from the bottom 20 percent income bracket, while over 77 percent come from the top 20 percent. Foster mentioned that when Mack spoke to the TCU Senate Administration & Policy Committee, he had brought up the point that some tuition money goes back to financial aid. The “total student charge” metric Foster used to determine affordability is comprised of the total cost of attendance minus financial aid. Foster ended by suggesting that Tufts could possibly look into the number of students on Pell Grants to determine metrics. However, this method would not take into account students with undocumented status or international students, Foster explained.

The floor was then opened to questions and comments about the presentation.

TCU Class of 2021 Senator Mateo Gomez mentioned that he was against using Pell Grants to determine metrics for the previously mentioned reason of not taking into account international students or students with undocumented status. Gomez also argued that Senate should be realistic about the numbers and that decreasing tuition might also mean decreasing financial aid packages.

Foster then shared his final thoughts about his presentation and noted that he wants to use metrics to demonstrate not only Tufts’ lack of affordability, but also incentivize Tufts to be more affordable in the future. He further explained that although this presentation was primarily given for the purpose of general awareness, he wants there to be a resolution on this issue eventually.

Lastly, TCU Diversity & Community Affairs Officer; Culture, Ethnicity & Community Affairs (CECA) Committee Chair; and sophomore Shannon Lee opened the floor to community senator updates.

TCU Africana Community Senator Fatima Ajose noted that the kitchen in the Africana Center is almost finished and that the Pan Afrikan Alliance is doing a service initiative to collect menstrual products.

The meeting then adjourned.

CORRECTION: This article has been updated to reflect Foster’s presentation on affordability and economic metrics more accurately and to clarify the date of the financial data he presented.