All students will have the opportunity to cast their votes for next year’s Tufts Community Union (TCU) president this Thursday. This year, the two candidates are juniors Shannon Lee and Philip Miller. They were nominated by TCU senators in a meeting on Thursday, April 18.
Lee has served as a Class of 2020 senator for three years. In her first year as senator, Lee served on the Allocations Board, and as a sophomore, she served as a diversity officer and chair of the Community & Diversity Committee, according to her campaign website.
“Student groups are at the center of my platform and my mission; it would be remiss for a president not to include other key student groups in the long term trajectory,” Lee, a junior, told the Daily. “The goal of the president is to support and serve students in pursuing their own goals.”
Her campaign is centered around five points: academic opportunity, accessibility, accountability, transparency and community. Lee also emphasized goals such as making housing more accessible, revising current exam policies and working alongside students.
In her first year in the TCU Senate, Lee spearheaded the Swipe It Forward program, which allows students to donate meal swipes to food-insecure students. Additionally, Lee has worked to create gender neutral bathrooms across campus and supported Tufts Dining workers in unionizing, according to her website.
“The president and senate oftentimes work on long term projects, but I think it’s important that we have small projects as well that we can accomplish. It’s important that we have both. For example … a long-term one is the creation of new dorms. That doesn’t happen overnight,” Lee said.
Other elements of Lee’s campaign emphasized included working with students, encouraging participation in decision-making processes and helping students navigate the Tufts administration to pursue their inquiries. In particular, Lee plans to work closely with student groups such as Tufts Student Action, Tufts Housing League and the Group of Seven themed houses on campus, according to Lee’s website.
“I have worked on a range of topics: education, issues of diversity and inclusion, services, policies related to the administration. I have served on the executive board as well as the allocations board … I have the ability to put on a lot of different hats,” Lee said.
Phil Miller is the other TCU presidential candidate. Miller served as a Class of 2020 senator during his first year and his sophomore year. Miller is currently studying abroad at the University of Oxford, and serves as the Pembroke College representative to the Oxford Student Union, according to his website.
Miller’s campaign is based on three central points: a stronger student body, a stronger Tufts and a stronger TCU Senate. In an interview with the Daily, Miller emphasized his focus on tangible goals and projects and seeing them all the way through.
As a first-year, Miller began work on the Textbook Exchange. Since its inception, Miller told the Daily that it has saved students about $200,000 and currently includes 10 other universities, with more joining soon.
“The Textbook Exchange is running completely [independent] of me right now. We have an entire executive board, an executive director, directors of marketing, operations, finance … I created a program that will last after I leave Tufts,” Miller said.
As a sophomore, Miller served as the Education Committee chair, creating a new system of tenure and promotion evaluation, which has since become the standard procedure, according to his campaign website.
“The [evaluation] reports I had been getting were poor — some of them were four sentences long,” Miller said. “I created a new quantitative method, and the quality improved greatly. From now on, all professors are graded on this metric.”
He also emphasized engaging the Tufts STEM community in the political scene at Tufts as a priority of his, saying that that there is very little representation of STEM majors and engineers on the TCU Senate. Miller also supports expanding high school placement credits and creating a high-occupancy residence hall.
“When I make a promise, I commit to it and I’m going to do it well, such as with the Textbook Exchange. I really want to focus on tangible changes … Being abroad has showed me how much I love the Tufts campus, and I really want to make positive changes in it,” Miller said.
“I would encourage people to take five minutes to get informed about who they are voting for — [information] is very accessible online — then … make an informed choice on election day,” current TCU President Jacqueline Chen, a senior, told the Daily in an interview.
Leah Sugrue, current chair of the TCU Elections Commission (ECOM), told the Daily that ECOM is working to streamline voting to make it easier for students to vote.
Students can vote with the Voatz app or in person at the Mayer Campus Center, Eaton Hall or Halligan Hall all day on Thursday, according to the ECOM website.
Additionally, Sugrue, a first-year, said that there will be a candidate forum at 4:30 p.m. on April 24 in Braker Hall, Room 001, where students can ask each candidate specific questions regarding their policies and priorities.