TCU Senate hears bylaw changes, State of the TCU address

Members of the Tufts Community Union Senate meet in the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room on Sept. 30. Julia McDowell / The Tufts Daily

The Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate held its final meeting this semester Sunday night in the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room to discuss a proposed bylaw amendment, hear addresses on the state of the TCU and vote on funding requests.

The proposed bylaw, introduced by TCU Parliamentarian Sharif Hamidi, a sophomore, would bar the Senate from voting on resolutions during or on the evening of a major religious or cultural holiday that could act as a barrier to Senate attendance.

TCU President Jacqueline Chen, in advocating for the amendment, said that the bylaw change is important in ensuring that communities at Tufts are not disenfranchised due to observance of religious or cultural holidays. After a discussion, the body agreed that it would recognize holidays already recognized by the university’s Religious Holy Days calendar.

Other senators said that in excluding language that bars the Senate from voting on funding requests, the amendment does not account for an integral part of the Senate’s weekly work.

Fearing that the amendment may fail the two-third majority needed to pass, the body elected to put off the bylaw amendment until next semester.

Earlier, Chen, a senior, opened meeting by announcing speeches from the president, treasurer and diversity and community affairs officer

In his speech, Diversity and Community Affairs Officer Grant Gebetsberger said that while senators’ projects will bring new initiatives to the Tufts community, senators should remember that the community they are representing is larger than themselves.

“We have to make sure that existing projects are targeted and marketed to populations that can best use it and that don’t traditionally have access to this kind of funding as part of the gap that we’re trying to address in the Senate,” Gebetsberger, a sophomore, said.

He also said that senators need to continue to think critically and fulfill their responsibilities to the entire Tufts community rather than letting that burden fall on the Diversity and Community Affairs Committee. 

In her State of the Treasury address, TCU Treasurer Izzy Ma thanked senators for their dedication to the Allocations Board and the organization. Ma, a sophomore, said that the treasury’s allocation of funding to student groups has been successful and that the committee is increasingly seeing the benefits of funding off-campus events for networking and student competitions.

She also said that the move to implement a 12 percent personal contribution for all student groups has made out-of-pocket contribution more equitable and lowered costs for students altogether.

Ma said that she will look to peer institutions to see how they allocate funding, as well as look into lowering or abolishing the costs to student groups for renting spaces on campus.  

“To meet the needs of every student group and to facilitate their ability to benefit from such valuable programs, the Treasury is dedicated to being more accessible, flexible and friendly,” Ma said.

In the State of the TCU address, Chen said that members must continue to question the process of their work and advocate for changes where they see fit. She said that the body must continue to work toward finding ways to engage with key decision makers at the university, including deans and other administration officials who have been unavailable or unwilling to meet with the Senate.

She ended her speech by saying that she looks forward to the work the Senate has planned next semester, including important resolutions and the publication of numerous student surveys that will determine priorities for the body.  

Chen then began the election process for the new chair of the Education Committee, currently held by Class of 2020 Senator Alexa Weinstein.

The following senators accepted their nominations and became official candidates: Class of 2022 Senators Deepen Goradia, Iyra Chandra, Tim Leong, Andrew Kofsky and Class of 2021 Senator Ayden Crosby. The Senate elected Crosby to become the new Education Committee chair. Crosby said he plans to look into the effects of over-enrollment on the ability to offer majors and minors as well as to increase access to faculty meetings.  

Following the election, Ma introduced a series of supplementary funding requests to the body for vote. The body approved supplementary funding requests for a number of student groups, including: $150 to Society of Latinx Engineers & Scientists for online memberships to the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers national network, as well as another $4,507 to cover the costs of a conference in Washington; and $1,000 to Students for the Exploration and Development of Space for a new 2019 Fiscal Year group budget.

Senate also voted to allocate $2,660 to Black Student Union for funding to send 12 students at the Yale Black Solidarity Conference, $220 to TEDxTufts to fund website costs for the Tufts chapter, $3,550 to Tufts Republicans to cover costs of attending the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington and $1,920 to SMFA Student Government Association for a performance art showcase/pop-up event in Jamaica Plains.

The Senate declined to fund Essence’s $300 request for refreshments at the group’s final show this semester, citing a lack of precedent or necessity.

During updates to the body, Hamidi said that in an effort to make Senate more accessible to the student body, the Senate will begin amending the procedural language of their meetings.

Weinstein said that the Education Committee’s student survey has been very successful. Weinstein said that, given the results of the survey, students believe that the administration does not value educational accessibility as most students pay an average of $200–300 a semester for textbooks.

The body then went into a closed session.