TCU Senate hears supplementary funding requests, welcomes new members

The Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate heard 10 supplementary funding requests after revising tenure and promotion recommendation criteria and welcoming newly elected TCU Senators.

TCU Treasurer Sharif Hamidi provided new senators with an overview of the Allocation Board’s (ALBO) deliberation process before beginning the process of hearing supplementary funding requests from student organizations.

TCU Senate had not heard supplementary funding requests for about two months.

The supplementary funding request that received the greatest amount of time was for Tufts Friends of Israel’s travel and accommodation expenses to attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington, D.C., which begins on March 1.

The group’s request was approved in part by the TCU Senate, but concerns over its lodging budget, and the precedents which would be set by its acceptance, stalled the meeting and prompted additional rounds of debate and additional time for input from senators.

At the center of this issue was a request for two additional single rooms, which the group justified the need for by citing that two members felt uncomfortable with having to share a bed with colleagues who they did not know well.

One main element of the debate was the club member’s expressed discomfort over having to share a bed, as well as what solutions, besides renting another full room, could be arrived at to meet their needs.

TCU Senator and ALBO member Alexa Weinstein explained how she felt the Senate should deal with such information.

“I don’t think it’s ALBO or Senate’s place to say what does or does not make people uncomfortable,” Weinstein said. “It is not our right or ability to say that your uncomfortability does not matter to us. If they are saying they are uncomfortable sharing a bed we should respect that.”

Hamidi, a junior, pointed out that in prior supplementary funding requests this year, single rooms had not been requested. Other TCU senators such as Ibrahim AlMuasher, a first-year, expressed concerns about setting a precedent for approving requests for single rooms, while Trustee Representative Charming Dube, a senior, saw the vote as an opportunity to change the precedent.

After rounds of deliberation, Senate voted to accept Tufts Friends of Israel’s requests for flight and registration funding, but the funding request for lodging was tabled until next week, at the proposal of TCU Senator for the Class of 2022 Andrew Vu.

All other supplementary funding requests were passed by Senate, except for the Leonard Carmichael Society’s request for $7,000 to purchase a Keywatcher system, which Senate deemed was a capital expenditure, and therefore Tufts’ responsibility to pay for.

TCU Senate also welcomed its newly-elected members, which were seniors Ben Shapiro and Dani Musoff and juniors Connor Goggins, Sarah Wiener, Grant Gebetsberger and Annika Witt. All six of these senators won uncontested elections and represent their respective classes.

After welcoming the new senators, TCU President Shannon Lee gave the floor to TCU Senator Avani Kabra, who provided some general updates.

Kabra, a first-year, told the Senate that a printer had been installed in Carmichael Hall, noted the increased availability of free menstrual products around campus and announced that there is a memo in progress with proposed changes to the Campus Center layout, which focuses on making Hotung Café a more social space. 

Following Kabra’s updates, TCU Senator Iyra Chandra presented the Education Committee’s proposed changes to TCU’s protocol for evaluating and recommending faculty for tenure and promotion. TCU Senators are responsible for reading students’ course evaluations and writing summaries of their feedback.

TCU Parliamentarian Finn McGarghan emphasized the importance of course evaluations, citing the weight of student input and perspectives in the tenure process.

“If a professor fails to get tenure, they usually leave the university, and we at Tufts have lost a lot of amazing professors,” McGarghan said. “This is the place where your voice is invaluable and where course evaluations matter.”

Overall, the changes to TCU’s evaluation procedures were minor, refining and supplying more nuance to the senators’ task. The changes focused on considering more creative aspects of teaching, such as creativity in lectures, class organization, demonstrations and examples and communication. 

The meeting closed with McGarghan notifying the Senate of next week’s opening of the Senate bylaws, providing an opportunity for senators to propose changes, among other announcements.

TCU Senate and the Office of the President will co-host the University Budgeting and Finance Town Hall on Feb. 4 at 5:30 p.m. in Barnum Hall, room 008. They will discuss the endowment, university finance, fundraising and potential divestment from the fossil fuel industry.