TCU Senate hears committee updates, matches funding requests

The Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate met today in the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room to hear committee updates, a presentation about a new template to help TCU Senators better complete faculty Tenure and Promotion (T&P) evaluations, discuss possible upcoming resolutions and hear funding requests.

TCU President Benya Kraus, a senior, opened the meeting to share important updates. First, she noted that student government elections for the TCU Senate, CSL and Judiciary will be held April 18 and the election for next year’s TCU President will be held April 25. Kraus went on to share that, starting now, the TCU Senate will no longer be funding Late Night Dining, which will instead be funded by sources such as the Tufts University Police Department (TUPD) budget. Kraus also said that this change came with support from Tufts’ Executive Vice President Patricia Campbell, Director of the Office for Campus Life Joe Golia and Dean of Student Affairs Mary Pat McMahon.

Next, Kraus mentioned that financial aid support will allocate more funds, allowing students on financial aid more money for room and board and textbooks. Lastly, Kraus noted that students on financial aid will now be able to request a cash advance for off-campus housing to help with down payments.

The TCU Senate then moved to hear committee updates.

Administration and Policy Committee Chair Jamie Neikrie, a senior, said the Brown and Blueprint Initiative, now closed, received comments from approximately 160 individual commentators that will be drafted into a report.

Neikrie opened the floor to TCU Trustee Representative Nathan Foster, a senior, who discussed a resolution up for vote on April 8. The resolution asked Tufts to maintain its level of affordability, to make sure the increase in tuition doesn’t exceed the inflation rate and to make sure incoming classes are economically diverse.

Education Committee Chair Phil Miller, a sophomore, then took the floor to give a presentation about his new template that will allow TCU Senators to produce higher-quality cases which provide more specific points and feedback when conducting T&P evaluations. Miller told the Daily that the T&P committee considers teaching ability when deciding which professors to provide tenure and pays attention to the feedback TCU Senators provide.

Miller also noted that he created this new template because the previous one, in his opinion, too often asked for numerical ratings of professor performance, rather than specific details. Miller mentioned that his template advises senators to divide summaries into three categories and subsequently paragraphs in their cases: communication ability of professor, depth of their content and approachability. Only in the fourth paragraph, according to Miller, would senators be asked to give professors an overall rating (of excellent, good, fair or poor). Lastly, Miller noted that this would allow senators to consider trends over time in their evaluations, and that allocation of tenure is not just important for professors up for it but also for the community as a whole.

TCU Senator and Allocations Board (ALBO) member Kevin Gleason then took the floor to share updates from the Services Committee and noted that Tisch Library will now officially be opening at 7:45 a.m. on weekdays.

The Treasury then voted to match ALBO’s funding recommendations for the following groups:  $3,130 for Tufts Financial Group to attend a networking event in New York City, $3,700 for African Students Association to put on an event, $2,200 for HYPE Mimez to host a workshop, $895 for the Japanese Culture Club to attend a retreat in New Hampshire, $1,322 for Women’s Club Volleyball to attend nationals, $2,000 for the Cape Verdean Students Association to host a culture night with a band, $1,135 for Buddhist Mindfulness Sangha to go to a meditation center, $600 for the Crafts Center to hold artist workshops and $816 to Skate Sculpture Club for a workshop.

Then, TCU Treasurer and ALBO Member Emily Sim, a junior, took the floor to discuss a resolution she is bringing forward that will likely be voted on at the April 16 meeting, which involves providing compensation in stipends to certain TCU Senator positions with higher time commitments, such as Executive Board, General Board, ALBO and Treasury. The proposed overall quantities of the stipends are yet to be determined, but Sim said that they might total $20,000 a year: $10,000 for the TCU Senators themselves and another $10,000 for other student leadership positions. Sim mentioned that the goal would ideally be to allocate these funds via alumni relations and donors.

Certain senate positions would have larger stipends than others, and Sim noted that some TCU Senate positions, such as TCU President and Treasurer, already involve compensation. As a final logistical note, Sim noted that stipends will be paid at the end of the year and would be granted on the condition that TCU Senators completed their tenures and responsibilities. As reasoning for putting forth this resolution, Sim mentioned that at other universities, certain responsibilities that the TCU Senate takes on, such as funding requests, are paid positions filled by faculty members. Sim told the Daily after the meeting that the senate positions that would receive stipends are more administrative and logistical than the rest of the senate positions. She also noted that such responsibilities involve administrative duties that are compensated at other universities, and that without such duties, no other activities on the Tufts campus would be able to run. All of this, Sim noted, serves as reasoning for why certain senator positions should receive stipends.  

After, TCU Parliamentarian Adam Rapfogel, a junior, took the floor to list potential upcoming resolutions for the TCU Senate to hear on April 16: A Resolution to Create a Formal and Transparent System for the Request of Institutional Information at Tufts, A Resolution Calling on Tufts University to Commit to 100 Percent Renewable Energy by 2050, A Resolution Calling for Tufts University to Provide Institutional and Structural Support to All Group of Seven Centers, A Resolution Calling on Tufts to Compensate Student Leaders, A Resolution Calling on Tufts University to Support Student Initiatives to Increase Geographic Diversity and an untitled resolution about commencement speaker choices.

Lastly, after updates from the Historian, Diversity and Community Affairs Committee and a brief open forum, the meeting adjourned.