During the 2017-2018 academic year, the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate passed a number of resolutions addressing issues from senator compensation to gender-inclusive restrooms.
Next year’s TCU President will be rising senior Jacqueline Chen. Following the presidential election on April 26th in which Chen defeated rising senior Adam Rapfogel, the TCU Senate held internal elections to select next year’s executive board. Rapfogel will be next year’s TCU Vice President, rising sophomore Izzy Ma will serve as Treasurer, rising sophomore Rebeca Becdach will be the TCU Historian, rising sophomore Janey Litvin will be the TCU Parliamentarian, and the new Diversity and Community Affairs Officer is rising sophomore Grant Gebetsberger.
During the first semester, the TCU Senate passed two resolutions. One called on the university to make the Asian American Center more accessible by relocating Asian American identity-based housing; the other requested more gender-neutral restrooms on campus.
The resolution regarding the Asian American Center passed unanimously.
The resolution regarding all gender-inclusive restrooms passed by acclamation and called for the university to build single-stalled, all gender-inclusive restrooms in Mayer Campus Center, Dewick MacPhie Dining Center and Carmichael Dining Center, as well as other buildings on campus, noting that these highly trafficked buildings currently do not have all gender-inclusive bathrooms.
During the second semester, the TCU Senate heard and passed nine resolutions.
The first urged the university to extend the pass/fail deadline to 10 weeks for all students, an option previously only available for first-years. The university formally voted to implement this measure via a faculty vote on Feb. 7; the extended pass/fail deadline for all class years will go into effect next fall.
The resolution regarding affordability metrics, proposed and authored by graduating senior and trustee representative Nathan Foster, urged the university to maintain its current level of affordability by providing more financial aid or limiting the increase in tuition “such that the overall increase in average total cost is no greater than the rate of inflation.”
The resolution regarding the unionization of dining workers urged Tufts administrators to voluntarily recognize Dining Service employees’ unionization efforts. Workers voted to unionize on April 24 in a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)-regulated election.
The resolution regarding university transparency proposed a public, online system for students and community members to ask for the requested data and information from the university. The system, modeled after similar ones at Tufts’ peer institutions and prompted by difficulties Tufts student groups have faced in finding information, would give Tufts one month to answer requests for information, with the exception of sensitive information related to university negotiations or active police investigations.
The resolution regarding the commencement speaker process encouraged Tufts to provide opportunities for student input when choosing future commencement speakers. Prompted by Tufts’ decision to host former DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman (E ’78) as this year’s commencement speaker. The school’s choice has met controversy due to DuPont’s record of environmental and occupational safety infractions during Kullman’s tenure.
The resolution regarding renewable energy urged the university to commit to receiving 100 percent of its energy from renewable resources such as solar and electric power and commit to carbon neutrality by 2050. According to rising sophomore class senators Mateo Gomez and Becdach, both of whom co-submitted the resolution, the resolution was based on local cities’ commitments to clean energy.
The resolution urging the university to provide increased institutional and structural support for Group of Seven centers called on Tufts to fill all vacant positions in the Group of Seven centers, to appoint a full-time director, associate director and full-time administrative assistant for every community center, to prioritize increases in funding for Group of Seven centers in the future, to work towards implementing anti-bias training and that Group of Seven staff members be paid equitably based on their positions.
The resolution regarding increasing geographic diversity on called Tufts to implement HomeSTATE and expand outreach to underrepresented states, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories.
Finally, the resolution regarding compensation for student leaders called on the university to offer stipends for students in leadership roles with demonstrable financial need. The goal of the resolution was to ensure long-term sustainability, according to TCU Treasurer Emily Sim, a rising senior.
This resolution was passed directly following the Senate’s vote to allocate $10,000 to the Student Leadership fund, which provides stipends for student leaders whose work is logistical and administrative and to provide an additional $8,500 to to 15 people serving positions within TCU student government. The latter sparked vocal debate and backlash from the student body.