What is the TCU? Student government FAQ

Credit: Tys Sweeney
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What is the TCU?

According to its website, the Tufts Community Union, commonly referred to as TCU, is the “overarching term for all members of the Tufts undergraduate community.” In other words, the TCU is the entire student body of Tufts.


What is the TCU Student Government?

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The TCU Student Government is composed of three bodies, the TCU Senate, the TCU Judiciary and the Committee on Student Life. Similar to how the United States federal government is divided into independent branches, the TCU Student Government is divided into independent bodies to delegate responsibility and maintain a balance of power. Each body works independently to serve the greater student body.


What does each branch do?

TCU Senate

The TCU Senate is a large part of the TCU Student Government. It is a voting body made up of seven senators representing each class and eight community senators. There are also four Trustee Representatives who are appointed by Senate and are non-voting members. The Trustee Representatives represent the student body in Board of Trustees meetings.

The communities represented by community senators are the Africana community, Asian American community, first generation college students community, international community, Latinx community, LGBTQ+ community, School of the Museum of Fine Arts community and the women’s community.

The main responsibilities of the Senate are to write and pass resolutions, allocate and approve budgets and supplementary funding requests and initiate projects to improve student life.

Senate is divided into five committees: the Administration & Policy Committee, the Community & Diversity Committee, the Education Committee, the Outreach Committee and the Services Committee. Each committee pursues projects in its respective field.

The Allocations Board is made up of ten internally elected TCU senators and is responsible for allocating the money from the TCU Treasury to each of the student organizations.

Traditionally, Senate holds public meetings every Sunday at 7:00 p.m. in the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these meetings have transitioned to an online format, and are still open to the public.


TCU Judiciary

The TCU Judiciary is responsible for recognizing student organizations or clubs, ensuring that student organizations follow their constitutions and organizing the creation of new student organizations.

Clubs must be recognized by the Judiciary in order to receive TCU funding and reserve spaces to hold meetings. Clubs undergo a re-recognition process every year, alternating yearly between an informational re-recognition and a somewhat more intensive re-recognition.



The Committee for Student Life, or the CSL, is made up of seven or more faculty members, up to five undergraduate students and one graduate student. According to the TCU website, the CSL is tasked with collaborating with the administration to “imbue in student life the principles, ideals, and values characteristic of the University.” The CSL is the main body responsible for amending changes to the constitution of the TCU Student Government and for providing oversight to all student groups, including Greek organizations.

Undergraduate representatives are elected annually, and faculty members are appointed to a five-year term. The single graduate representative is appointed annually by the Graduate Student Council.

The dean of student affairs, the director of community standards, the director of the office of campus life and the university chaplain are all non-voting members of the CSL.


Who is my Senator?

A list of the TCU senators is available on the TCU website.


What is ECOM?

The Elections Commission, or ECOM, is an independent body that oversees all student-wide and TCU elections. While it is part of the TCU Student Government, it is independent of all of the other bodies. ECOM members are appointed by the Judiciary.


When do elections take place?

ECOM generally holds elections in both the fall and the spring, though special elections may be held to fill vacant seats in any body of the TCU Student Government. Generally, first-years are elected in fall elections and candidates of sophomore, junior or senior standing are elected in spring elections.


Could you talk a bit more about ALBO?

TCU’s Allocation Board, also known as ALBO, is made up of ten internally elected senators and is chaired by the TCU Treasurer. ALBO allocates TCU’s $2 million Treasury fund to each of TCU’s clubs and organizations. It also hears and preliminarily votes on supplementary funding requests and club budgets before the wider Senate body hears and votes to either pass or reject them.


Where does all of this money come from and where does it go?

Every Tufts undergraduate student pays a Student Activities Fee on their bill, which was $396 this academic year. Combining every student’s Student Activity Fee results in the TCU Treasury, which totals over $2 million. Eighty-five percent of that money goes to the annual budgets of student organizations, which are finalized by April of the previous academic year. The remaining 15% is reserved for supplementary funding.


What is supplementary funding?

When organizations formulate their annual budgets in coordination with ALBO and the TCU Treasurer, sometimes the club has not completely recognized all of its potential expenses. This is where supplementary funding is important. If a student organization ever finds itself in need of additional funding on top of what its annual budget has allocated, they submit a supplementary funding request to ALBO, which conducts a review and preliminary vote on it. If the request passes ALBO, it is then forwarded to the greater Senate body, which can vote to either approve the request or reject it.


What happened this weekend?

The Judiciary suspended and then promptly unsuspended members of the Senate Executive Board and ECOM due to a misunderstanding about how ECOM and the Senate Executive Board were planning to fill two vacant Class of 2022 senate seats, a vacant international community senator seat and a vacant women’s community senator seat. The misunderstanding arose due to a discrepancy between branches in the use of the word “appointment.” For more information, please refer to the Daily’s additional coverage


What does the term “appointment” mean?

It varies, and that is what has led to confusion. Formally, ECOM uses the term “appointment” to refer to the selection of students to temporarily fill Senate seats without an election.

Among members of the Senate, the term “appointment” has been used to refer to the wholly democratic election of an unopposed candidate.


How does a suspension work?

According to the Judiciary bylaws, a suspension from the Senate or ECOM “temporarily restricts the member’s rights as a member, to a degree and duration determined by the TCUJ.” It is more serious than a formal warning but less serious than expulsion.


More information about the TCU Student Government can be found on its website.

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