TCU Senate reviews fiscal year 2020 budget

The Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate reviewed and approved most of its budget for student organizations for fiscal year 2020 at its meeting on Sunday night in the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room.

The budget is divided into nine councils and an engineering council, each focusing on a different category of student organizations.

Before beginning a review of the budget, TCU Treasurer Izzy Ma, a sophomore, explained that the budgeted total income of $2,139,200 was estimated by multiplying the student activities fee of $382 by the approximately 5,600 undergraduates.

Council One, which is comprised of cultural groups such as the Black Student Union and Chinese Student Association, was budgeted $140,940 in total.

TCU Associate Treasurer Sharif Hamidi, a sophomore, explained why the total Council One allocation changed little with respect to last year’s budget.

“Some groups received a budget increase, some received a decrease, so that is why the council as a whole only shifted about $500,” Hamidi said.

The TCU Senate approved the total with 24 senators in favor and none opposed.

The Council Two budget, which includes programming and social organizations such as Tufts University Social Collective (TUSC) and Another Option, was allocated $895,530 in total.

The first objection raised to the Council Two budget centered on a line item of $7,500 in the TUSC Traditions budget for “consumable supplies” such as t-shirts at Tuftonia’s Day.

TCU Vice President Adam Rapfogel, a senior, explained why he believed the proposed line item was excessive.

“$7,500 is a considerable amount of money. It’s more than a lot of budgets and can add a lot of value in other ways,” Rapfogel said.

TCU Senator Jonah O’Mara Schwartz, a senior, added that many students such as himself value memorabilia like TUSC T-shirts.

“Tufts gear is really expensive … it’s one of those things that [levels] the playing field — everyone having Tufts gear,” O’Mara Schwartz said. “When I think of things that I remember about my Tufts experience, T-shirts are one of those things.”

Ultimately, TCU Senate approved the total of $250,600 for TUSC Traditions, which included the original request of $7,500 for the consumable supplies, with 13 senators in favor, nine opposed and two abstaining.

Additionally, Rapfogel questioned the high cost proposed for the Senior Gala run by TUSC Senior Events.

“I think we can have another venue that is also quite nice that doesn’t need to be super high with a view of the water,” Rapfogel said. “Fifty-five thousand dollars is a lot of money to spend on a venue.”

However, TCU Senator Grant Gebetsberger, a sophomore, explained how he believed the significant meaning of the event warranted the significant expense.

“I think that it’s worth investing in and not shortchanging those experiences that are to celebrate accomplishments of an entire class,” Gebetsberger said.

Ultimately, the TCU Senate maintained the original TUSC Senior Events budget with 21 senators in favor, none opposed and six abstaining.

Before reviewing the total Council Two budget, a proposed reduction to the TUSC Film Series budget failed that would have reduced showings to one per week, and a small adjustment was made to the budget of Another Option.

TCU Senate approved the total of $895,530 for Council Two with 26 senators in favor and none opposed.

The TCU Senate voted to table further review of the Council Three budget until next week, which includes media and print publications such as the Zamboni and Future Histories literary magazine.

According to Ma, the concerns raised by senators and the lack of reduced budget proposals from some of the student organizations would have led to a lengthy and difficult review of the Council Three budget.

Council Four, which is comprised of religious groups, was ultimately allocated $94,108.50 with 27 senators in favor and none opposed.

TCU Senator Karan Rai, a senior, explained why the total budget for Council four was reduced from last year’s total of $101,584.50.

“Overall, a lot of groups were saying that they got too much money last year and that they didn’t need nearly as much,” Rai said.

Council Five, which is made up of performance groups, was allocated $138,272 with 27 senators in favor and none opposed.

Council Six, which includes both service-based and miscellaneous groups, was allocated $170,395.55 in total, with 23 senators in favor, two opposed and one abstaining.

Council Seven, which is comprised of pre-professional organizations, was ultimately allocated $42,356.29 with 24 senators in favor, none opposed and one abstaining.

TCU President Jacqueline Chen, a senior, initially objected to the budget of the Tufts Trading Fund, criticizing the club’s history with the Tufts Financial Group (TFG).

“I don’t think it should exist,” Chen said. “It is completely redundant with TFG … it is only here because someone didn’t win president of TFG three years ago.”

The TCU Senate ultimately passed minor adjustments to the Tufts Trading Fund and TFG budgets.

Council Eight, which includes political groups, was allocated a total of $28,045 with 25 senators in favor, none opposed and two abstaining.

TCU Senator Rabiya Ismail, a first-year, explained why the total budget for the council increased over last year’s total.

“A lot of [the student organizations] were groups before; they just weren’t TCU recognized … Now that they’re being funded, the budget went up,” Ismail said.

Council Nine, which focuses on student government, was allocated $227,936.50 with 27 senators in favor and none opposed.

The Council Nine budget includes funding for student leadership stipends, club sports, Hall Councils and SMFA Student Government, as well as TCU Senate, Judiciary and Elections Commission.

The Engineering Council, which includes all engineering organizations such as Society of Women Engineers and Design for Social Good, was approved for a total of $67,543.70. Twenty seven senators were in favor and none in opposition.

In addition to the full budget review, TCU Senate also heard several supplementary funding requests from student organizations.

TURBO, TCU Senate, BlackOut Step Team, Robotics Club, sQ! and the American Society of Civil Engineers requested supplementary funding, and were allocated $260, $220, $176, $766, $435 and $222 respectively.

Rapfogel also announced that applications for faculty-student committees will soon be released, which is earlier than the typical autumn release date.

TCU Senate will reconvene for its final meeting of the spring semester on Monday, April 15.