TCU Senate hears 7 funding requests, funds Tufts Republicans trip to CPAC

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

The Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate approved six supplementary funding requests and one budget request from seven student organizations on Sunday night in the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room

One of the longest-debated requests was from Tufts Republicans, who originally requested $2,520 to cover registration, travel and lodging costs to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Feb. 26, 2020. While the Allocations Board (ALBO) recommended $2,268, the request was tabled last week after concerns were raised over the content of the conference and the conference’s speakers. 

After more than 30 minutes of debate, the Senate approved the ALBO recommended total of $2,268 with 18 senators in favor, six opposed and two abstaining.

The approval of the request marks the third time in recent years that Tufts Republicans has been funded to attend the conservative conference, according to TCU Treasurer Sharif Hamidi

CPAC, which in recent years has been headlined by prominent Republican officials and conservative activists but has also featured networking opportunities, workshops and panels on particular policy issues, was criticized at last week’s TCU Senate meeting for providing a platform for those professing hateful views.

Senator Iyra Chandra said concerns over whether a student organization attending CPAC would violate the student code of conduct were unfounded.

“We have word from the administration at Tufts that going to this event will not break the code of conduct,” Chandra, a sophomore, said. “For me, that’s enough to be like, this is totally fair.”

Alex Muresianu, vice president of Tufts Republicans, described the effect on campus of members of Tufts Republicans attending CPAC

“An important thing to take away is what the impact is on the Tufts community, and as far as I can tell, the impact has been positive,” Alex Muresianu, a junior, said. “Whether it’s been bringing back carbon dividends or interesting conversations in Tufts Republicans or getting to know people through [CPAC].”  

Jose Martinez, the TCU first generation college student community senator, explained why his impression of CPAC and its history of controversial speakers made him feel obligated to vote no on the supplementary funding request. 

“From what I’ve seen on social media, online … I just don’t think that my community, the first-gen community, would really be comfortable with students going to this,” Martinez, a sophomore, explained.

The other funding request debated came from the Russian and Slavic Students Association (RSSA), who appealed the ALBO decision on its fiscal year 2020 budget. They originally requested $1,725, but ALBO only recommended $237, according to its report. 

According to the proposed RSSA budget, the largest reduction was attributed to ALBO bookmarking the organization’s request of $1,245.77 for its annual RSSA Music Festival. But ALBO also recommended $0 for its proposed cooking demonstrations and movie night events

The Senate voted to allocate $466 for RSSA’s fiscal year 2020 budget with no senators opposed, keeping the RSSA Music Festival bookmarked until next semester.

According to Hamidi, the RSSA has not had a completed a budget through the standard process since at least fiscal year 2016, so it is subject to a $2,000 limit on its yearly budget

Pedro Lazo-Rivera, a member of the RSSA, explained that the unique budgeting situation compared to other student organizations could be attributed in part to a desire to make RSSA programming thematically follow the academic department’s programming.

“We want the Russian academic programming to line up with [RSSA’s] cultural programming, so we can fulfill a wide reaching community, academic and cultural initiative,” Lazo-Rivera, a senior, said. 

Public Harmony, a social outreach and music performance group, requested $1,368 for professional audio and video equipment for its 2019 Fall Showcase at 8 p.m. on Nov. 22 in Curtis Hall, which ALBO approved in full, according to its report.

The Senate approved the requested total of $1,368 in full, with 23 senators in favor, one opposed and two abstaining. 

The Psychology Society requested $400 for its Dec. 4 trivia event, which ALBO approved in full, according to its report. The Senate approved the requested total of $400; no senators opposed the request. 

Mock Trial requested $1,400 to cover travel costs to a competition in January, but ALBO only recommended $1,260, according to its report. 

The Senate approved the ALBO recommended total of $1,260, which was passed by acclamation.

The Minority Association of Pre-Health Students requested $225 to cover registration costs for a Student National Health Association conference on Nov. 23 in Connecticut, but ALBO only recommended $203, according to its report.

The Senate approved the ALBO recommended total of $203, with 24 senators in favor, one opposed and one abstaining.

Students for Justice in Palestine requested $800 as an honorarium for speaker Eran Efrati at its event on Dec. 4, which ALBO approved in full, according to its report. Twenty-five senators voted in favor, none opposed and one abstained.