TCU Senate calls on administration to prioritize housing, build new dorm

The TCU Senate convenes in the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room on Sept. 30. Julia McDowell / The Tufts Daily

Tufts Community Union (TCU) senators stepped into the ongoing housing debate Sunday night, unanimously passing a resolution that calls upon the university to build a new, “high-capacity” dorm at the body’s regular Sunday night meeting in the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room.

The resolution sets a series progress benchmarks for the as-of-yet-unplanned dorm, notably that construction must begin within the next five years. It was written by Vice President Adam Rapfogel, TCU President Jacqueline Chen, Trustee Representatives sophomore Connor Goggins and senior Noah Weinflash, and Class of 2019 Senators Jonah O’Mara Schwartz and Shane Woolley, and Class of 2021 Senators Griffen Saul and Sarah Wiener. 

O’Mara Schwartz told the body that the university has done little to demonstrate progress on a new dorm.

“[Tufts] haven’t taken active steps to proceed and start the process of building a high-capacity dorm,” he said.

Chen, a senior, said that Tufts has done little to fix the housing shortage. She said that recent actions taken by the university have only made the problem worse.

“What I’ve seen in the past three years is that Tufts takes a lot of steps to grow its student population but then doesn’t do a lot to mitigate the effects of the students that are already on campus,” she said.

The body widely supported the final resolution, though senators were uneasy with some of the original resolution’s finer details. Of particular concern was the question of location. TCU Senate held an internal debate over whether or not to demand that the residence hall be built on campus to avoid further gentrifying the Medford/Somerville area.

After the discussion and some brief alterations to the resolution, the body voted on the resolution, passing it unanimously.

TCU Parliamentarian Sharif Hamidi, a sophomore, then introduced a series of future resolutions that, in accordance with Senate bylaws, will be voted on in two weeks by the Senate body. The respective resolutions demand that the university reach gender parity in leadership, propose a “roadmap” for the future of campus dining, call for a full divestment from fossil fuels and call for the “unwavering support” of Senior Lecturer Thomas Abowd. They will be voted on at the Dec. 2 meeting.

TCU Treasurer Izzy Ma, a sophomore, then took the floor to introduce a supplementary funding request. The body voted to approve a $1,270 request from Roots x SWAT to fund its event.

Next, Rapfogel, a senior, updated the body on the Turkey Shuttle, which will transport students heading home for Thanksgiving break to both South Station and Boston Logan International Airport. He said that it will be running on Tuesday at 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., and on Wednesday at 6 a.m., 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.. Tickets are available online.

Rapfogel also said that applications for the Elections Commission will be released soon, and that the Senate will meet in the future to discuss.

The Senate then moved attention to Chen for various updates. She encouraged members of the body and the greater Tufts community to donate to the Swipe it Forward program. She stressed that many individuals have an abundance of swipes, and as the semester nears closer to its end, any students who can donate to the cause should do so.

Lastly, Chen and Rapfogel gave a presentation to the body on the Student Leadership Stipends initiative, a TCU-funded initiative to supplement student leaders contributing to groups who would otherwise not be able to conduct the crucial work they do. 

TCU Senate voted last year to allocate $10,000 for the initiative to make student leadership positions successful and give individuals the ability to continue their work.  

Applications for the Student Leadership Stipends were sent to clubs on Nov. 16, in an email to TCU-recognized student organizations from Director for Campus Life Joe Golia. There will be an information session on Nov. 29 in Braker 001 to discuss further, and the deadline to apply will be on Dec. 10, according to Rapfogel.

Lastly, the body discussed a future funding initiative intended to set aside grants and assistance in planning events for students seeking to host events at Tufts. Several senators who worked to create the initiative, which will be presented to the Allocations Board on Nov. 28, are hoping their funding request will provide a channel for students hoping to host events and activities for members of their community. 

Students who are not affiliated with a campus group will also be able to request funding, according to Class of 2022 Senator Tim Leong, one of the senators pushing the initiative.

“I think part of the point is to have students that are not necessarily part of a club, to have the chance to have this money and to put on a cool event that they had the idea for,” Leong said.