TCU Senate votes to allocate $5,000 to ‘SLUSH Fund’ for student projects

The Tufts Community Union Senate convenes in the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room on Sept. 30, 2018. Julia McDowell / The Tufts Daily

The Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate met Sunday in the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room to discuss the Senate-led project Students Lifting Up the Spirit of the Herd (SLUSH) Fund, hear a resolution calling for divesting from the firearms industry and consider Allocations Board (ALBO) funding appeals and requests.

The Senate heard a supplementary funding request for a project from members of the Senate, who requested $5,000 to the SLUSH Fund. The SLUSH Fund is a Senate-led project intended to set aside money to help students seeking to build community at Tufts by offering assistance in planning and funding. Members of the body have said that it is intended to build community at Tufts and give individuals not involved with a student group the ability to put on fun and creative events.

According to Class of 2021 Senator Ayden Crosby, the administration has promised to match $5,000 in contribution to the fund.

Several members critiqued the process by which the Senate was attempting to fund its own project during the debate. Class of 2019 Senator Jonah O’Mara Schwartz, a senior, noted the hypocrisy of the Senate voting on a Senate-backed proposal.

“It’s just weird that we let ourselves break these rules but we say for other people, groups that come in, that they can’t,” he said. “It just seems objective and weird the Senate keeps feeling we can break rules but we have to hold these other groups accountable.”  

Class of 2021 Senator Sarah Wiener criticized the idea of the body funding its own projects.

“I think we have to hold ourselves to the same standard that we hold groups to,” Wiener said. “I think it can be a really great thing to have in the student body … but we have to hold ourselves to the same standard.”

Class of 2022 Senator Tim Leong, in advocating for the SLUSH Fund, highlighted the ability and need for the funding request presented.

“I think there’s a clear problem in terms of morale on campus and I think we’re just using Senate’s discretionary power to address that problem,” Leong said.

The body passed the funding request by a margin of 2208.

Next, TCU Parliamentarian Sharif Hamidi, a sophomore, introduced a resolution to the body. Authored by TCU senators Crosby, Leong and senior Amrutha Chintalapudi, the resolution is titled “A Resolution Calling on Tufts University to Divest its Endowment from the Firearm Manufacturing Industry.”

According the resolution, the Senate “urges the Tufts administration and Board of Trustees to develop a plan to divest its endowment from the firearm industry by 2020” and urges the administration and trustees to “ensure that all future investment decisions are firearm-free.”

The resolution also calls for a public statement on the university’s intentions to divest entirely from the firearm manufacturing industry.

The resolution cites a March faculty vote that urged university administration and the Board of Trustees to divest the university’s endowment from companies involved in the production, distribution and sale of assault weapons to the public. The faculty vote passed 50–0–4.

Crosby said that the administration needs to follow up on the faculty vote.

“The 50 members of the faculty voted in favor of urging the Board of Trustees from divesting from it, so it’s to push this agenda of reducing gun violence in the U.S. … and also asking the university to follow up on this petition from the faculty to divest.”

Leong believes that calling on the university to issue a public statement on its intentions to divest is integral to the resolution.

“I think it would be really great if Tufts set [a] precedent for this among our peer institutions by divesting from the gun industry,” Leong said. 

After the discussion, the Senate voted to pass the resolution, 2702.

Hamidi then informed the body that all pending resolutions will be postponed to next semester. “A Resolution Calling on Tufts University to Achieve Gender Parity in University Leadership” and “A Resolution Providing a Roadmap for Future Improvements to Tufts Dining” will be heard on Jan. 21, 2019. “A Resolution Calling for Unwavering Support for Professor Thomas Abowd by the Tufts Community Union” has been shelved for an unspecified date in the spring semester, according to Hamidi.

Before this, TCU Treasurer Izzy Ma, a sophomore, opened the meeting by introducing representatives from Tufts Student Action (TSA), who appeared before the body to contest a previous ALBO recommendation. The group had requested $500 intended to cover travel and subsidize costs to send two senior members to a national conference in Chicago; ALBO had recommended funding just one.

After the brief explanation period, the body funded the conference for two students with $440 by a vote of 27–0–3.

Members of Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) then appealed ALBO’s recommendation of their funding request. The group had requested $1,150 to pay for three speakers to attend a panel on Western Sahara and Palestine, but ALBO rejected that request because it felt it did not have enough information about the speakers, according to Ma, the ALBO chair. 

The body voted to confirm funding for the event while bookmarking a request for honorarium for the third proposed speaker despite hopes from SJP that the speaker would be compensated outright. SJP can request compensation for the third speaker once chosen.  

Ultimately, the body rejected the suggested $0 in funding that ALBO recommended, coming up with its own figure of $1,000 to fund two honorariums, travel and housing, and a $50 bookmark for the unknown speaker. The vote passed by a margin of 2082.

The body then moved to hear supplementary funding requests.

A request for $908 was approved for JumboRaas to fund a budget for fiscal year 2019, which included costumes, makeup and props, as well as $4,418 to cover travel, housing and registration for a national competition in Blacksburg, Va.

Senate also voted to fund $2,271 to Future Histories Literary Magazine for a new group funding request.

The meeting closed with various updates from senators.