TCU Senate discusses financial year 2019 budget, votes to pay its members

Sophia Gordon Hall on May 7, 2014. Nicholas Pfosi / The Tufts Daily Archives

The Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate met in Sophia Gordon Multi-purpose room to discuss the budget for fiscal year 2019 (FY 19) and to hear a resolution about tuition hikes and updates on Spring Fling logistics. In the context of discussing budgeting, the senate voted to give an additional $8,500 to 15 people serving positions within TCU student government.

The body also voted to appropriate $10,000 for the Student Leadership Fund, which provides stipends for student leaders whose work is “logistical, administrative.” Their roles must take up a comparable amount of time as a part-time job, and the priority will be given to students on financial aid, according to the presentation given before the body. However, while Senate’s vote to pay members of student government will go into effect next fall, the body merely secured the funding for the Student Leadership Fund. The fund’s creation depends on senate passing a resolution to encourage the university to create such a program, which they will vote on next week.

TCU President Benya Kraus, a senior, opened the meeting and then gave the floor to Trustee Representative Kristen Moran, who shared updates on Spring Fling logistics instead of Assistant Director at the Office for Campus Life John Wescott, who didn’t make the scheduled appearance at the meeting.

According to Moran, a sophomore, metal detectors will be installed at the concert entrances, and students won’t be allowed to carry any bags. Part of Professors Row from Latin Way to Packard Ave. will be closed. Each student, in addition to one free student ticket, will be allowed to purchase two guest tickets that will be on sale for $30 a ticket. Moran also added that guest ticket holders will be required to enter through a separate door to expedite the process.

Next, the body heard a resolution, titled, “A Resolution Asking Tufts to Maintain its Current Level of Affordability.” The resolution urges the university to provide more financial aid, or to limit the increase in tuition, “such that the overall increase in average total cost is no greater than the rate of inflation.”

Authored by Trustee Representative Nathan Foster, a senior, and three Class of 2021 Representatives Grant Gebetsberger, Mateo Gomez and Sarah Wiener, the resolution points out that Tufts, for the Class of 2013, had one of the wealthiest student bodies in the country, according to The New York Times, and that the university’s tuition is the seventh most expensive in the United States, according to USA Today.

Authors said that the resolution provides a realistic guideline for the university in keeping its affordability level. Wiener, in particular, argued that education is a form of service and that price for education should stay within the inflation rate, if not lower.

TCU Parliamentarian Adam Rapfogel, a junior, introduced the resolution to the body and TCU Historian and junior Jacqueline Chen read the text of the resolution. Following a discussion on both non-substantive changes relating to grammar, the body entered the debate phase and voted to make a substantive change in the text, by adding a line that calls the university to “adopt goals and metrics addressing its average total cost and economic diversity.” The body then passed the resolution by acclamation.

Before the body moved to hear supplementary funding requests, Rapfogel shared with the body that seven resolutions will be introduced on the floor at the next Senate meeting on April 16.

The body voted to match the initial recommendations of the Allocations Board (ALBO) for the following groups: $223 in funding to the TuftScope Journal for its spring panel event about climate change and human health on April 17, $2,568 to Tufts Mock Trial for its trip to national championship in Minneapolis from April 20 to 22, $2,055 to Men’s Club Volleyball for its stay in St. Louis for national championships from April 11 to 15, $1,010 to Tufts Queer Students Association for a speaker event featuring Pidgeon Pagonis, $1,650 to Students for Justice in Palestine for its speaker event on campus, $2,000 to Tufts Returning Students Organization for a speaker event featuring Vermin Supreme on April 25, $1,962 to Tufts Sino-US Relations Group Engagement for speaker travel funding, $1,090 to American Society of Civil Engineers for hotels to attend the Bridge Building Competition in Burlington, Vt. from April 27 to 29 and $300 to Singapore Students Association for its lunch event with the Singaporean Ambassador for the United States.

Next, ALBO members took the floor to explain the budget changes for each council they chair. Budget changes for all groups in ten councils were presented before the body. After each council chair went over the shift in budget, the body voted on the proposed amount. The proposed budget for each for FY 19 was passed by the body after a question-and-answer session for each council. Most notable shifts in budget came from the following councils:

Council 3, a category for media organizations on campus, saw a 16.83% increase in budget from FY 18’s $110,571.31 to $129,185. Council 3 Chair and Class of 2019 Representative Emma Phillips explained that most of the increase was a result of an overall increase in printing cost for paper-publications.

Council 7, a category for pre-professional groups on campus, saw a 12.56% increase from FY 18’s $33,566 to $37,781. Council 7 Chair and Class of 2020 Representative Kevin Gleason explained that four new groups asked for funding for FY 19, including groups that didn’t request funding previously and new groups on campus.

Engineering Council saw a 84.71% increase from FY 18’s $31,400 to $58,000. Kraus, who chairs the Engineering Council, explained that groups under this category have been “underfunded” in the past, even though they experienced cuts from their initial requests.

While all the other councils experienced an increase in budget, council 8, a category for political groups on campus, saw a 14.05% decrease from FY 18’s $31,219 to $26,894. Council 8 Chair and Assistant Treasurer Sharif Hamidi explained that political groups have had budget inflation in the past as they often request more funding than they need. Hamidi, a first-year, added that political groups can often find external sources of funding, citing Tufts CIVIC, a campus political group that doesn’t ask for funding from TCU Senate.

For Council 9, a category for student government organizations, the body first voted on Student Government Stipends and Student Leadership Stipends. The proposed amount for added paid Senate positions was $8,500, including a $500 increase in the stipend for TCU Vice President, a $1,000 stipend to Senate Parliamentarian, Senate Historian and Senate Diversity and Community Affairs Officer, $750 to Senate Assistant Treasurer and $500 to allocations members. For non-Senate positions, Judiciary Vice Chair will receive $500. Judiciary Re-recognition Chair, Judiciary Recognition Chair and Committee on Student Life Chair will all receive $250.

Many senators voiced their concerns over the Student Government Stipends. Chen said the proposed system favors student leaders on TCU Senate. Rapfogel agreed with Chen, and said the matter should be decided by a referendum. He also said it is conflict of interest: “We are essentially funding ourselves.”

However, Diversity and Community Affairs Officer Shannon Lee and Gebetsberger argued that Senate has given the student body every opportunity to engage with Senate on the matter, and the body should be voting on it rather than letting the students decide by a referendum.

In particular, Gebetsberger said that students may be voting on something they do not understand the details of, should there be a referendum.

The body passed the proposed amount of $8,500 by a 16–14–0 vote.

The body then passed the proposed amount of $10,000 for Student Leadership Fund by a 29–0–1 vote. Only one abstention vote came from LGBTQ+ Community Senator Kathleen Lanzilla, a first-year who argued that there is lack of detail in the proposed system.

Lastly, TCU Vice President Anna Del Castillo opened the floor for committee updates.

Education Committee Chair Phil Miller announced that the Tufts Textbook Exchange will be funded entirely by the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs. There were no other significant updates from other committees.

Then the meeting adjourned.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Class of 2018 Senator Jamie Neikrie voted against the Student Leadership Fund. However, no senator voted against the fund and LGBTQ+ Community Senator Kathleen Lanzilla abstained from the vote. The Daily regrets this error.


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