TCU Senate discusses Dunkin’ incident, hears supplementary funding requests

President's Lawn is pictured on Oct. 18. Ann Marie Burke / The Tufts Daily

The Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate discussed claims of racist hiring practices at the Dunkin’ on Boston Avenue and heard supplementary funding requests in an online meeting on Sunday night.

In a conversation led by TCU Diversity Officer Mathew Peña, the body discussed a recent incident at the Dunkin’ location involving a Tufts student who wrote in a Facebook post that they were denied a position on account of their race.

TCU Vice President Grant Gebetsberger mentioned that Tufts students make up the majority of the franchise’s customers.

“There was some talk about our real power, [since] Tufts students are the ones who frequent that Dunkin’,” Gebetsberger, a senior, said.

Both Gebetsberger and TCU Senator Deepen Goradia announced that they will no longer go to that specific Dunkin’ location.

Africana Community Senator Amma Agyei described the bureaucratic process through which an incident like this can be addressed by the Tufts administration.

“The first step [is] to report [the incident] to [the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO)], and then after that, [OEO is] going to contact the committee that deals with community relations between Tufts and the general community,” Agyei, a junior, said. “They will contact Dunkin’ corporate.”

Peña, a senior, then announced a project that would streamline the process through which Tufts handles issues of racism in the community.

TCU President Sarah Wiener said that the university generally acts with caution when faced with the issue of race, especially if there is an implied legal issue.

“There’s an immediate bureaucratization that has to happen because Tufts now is dealing with questions of liability,” Wiener, a senior, said. “Whenever there’s a legal question involved, Tufts is much more apprehensive and slow moving.”

Latinx Community Senator Carolina Olea Lezama said she believes that Tufts does not like to admit that there is in fact racism on campus and in the surrounding communities.

“Some people don’t want to admit … racism on their campus,” Lezama, a junior, said. But the fact of the matter is that there is, and students need to know how to be supported and how to go through that process of who to contact.”

TCU Parliamentarian Taylor Lewis then announced updates about elections and pending referenda.

According to Lewis, a senior, Tufts Elections Commission plans to hold an election before the end of November to fill the currently vacant Senate seats. Lewis also announced that the International Center and the Women’s Center will appoint representatives to fill the respective Community Senator positions.

Lewis then discussed two pending referenda. According to Lewis, instead of attempting to appeal the referendum through TCU Senate as a resolution, Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine plans to simply bring their referendum titled “End the Deadly Exchange” directly in front of the student body.

Lewis also noted a referendum by Tufts for a Racially Equitable Endowment that advocates for divestment from private prisons in the endowment.

Gebetsberger deferred his section to the various committee chairs, who announced updates from their committees.

According to chair Avani Kabra, the Services Committee is working to extend operating hours at the library and translate emails from the university, so parents whose first language is not English can more easily understand them.

Outreach Committee Chair Jalen Little announced class-by-class town halls before Thanksgiving break, which will not involve Tufts administrators.

“These town halls will be focused on talking to the students about how we can be most helpful to them as their representatives,” Little, a sophomore, said.

According to chair Ibrahim AlMuasher, the Administration and Policy Committee will release an end-of-semester survey directly following Thanksgiving break. AlMuasher, a sophomore, also announced an ongoing project with the goal of diversifying the admissions process.

“Valerie [Infante] is currently working on an attempt to try to diversify admissions and the communities that admissions approach by trying to send out students from BIPOC communities back into their high schools to try and recruit other students from their high schools,” AlMuasher said.

Education Committee Chair Iyra Chandra announced a collaboration with the Community and Diversity Committee to put trigger warnings on certain historical items at Tisch Library.

In her section, Wiener brought up a meeting with Kevin Kraft, associate dean of student affairs, where she discussed how the university can support students both during and after the presidential election.

“Some things we were talking about is if students are going to protest the day after the election and they want support and getting buses or getting N95 masks, that’s something within [Kraft’s] office’s purview to potentially be funded,” Wiener said.

Before adjournment, TCU Senate heard three supplementary funding requests.

The Vietnamese Students Club requested $220 to fund four performers. Seven members of the Allocations Board (ALBO) voted in favor of the request, with none opposed and two abstaining. The request passed TCU Senate by acclamation. 

Parnassus requested $60 to host an interactive virtual event with a speaker. Eight members of ALBO voted in favor of the request, with none opposed and one abstaining. The request passed TCU Senate by acclamation.

TCU Senate requested $2,500 to fund a project by the Services Committee that would send care packages to students. According to Class of 2024 Senator and ALBO member Hadiya Giwa, the project would help publicize the TCU Senate Instagram account. Eight members of ALBO voted in favor of the request, with none opposed and one abstaining. The request passed TCU Senate by acclamation.