TCU Senate discusses allegations of bias against TCU Judiciary, racism on campus

Ballou Hall is pictured on Apr. 20, 2018. Rachel Hartman / The Tufts Daily Archives
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The Tufts Community Union Senate discussed the upcoming hearing it will hold to review a complaint filed against the Tufts Community Union Judiciary in their virtual Sunday afternoon meeting.

The complaint alleges that the Judiciary exhibited bias in its handling of the referendum put forward by Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine. The senators also discussed the racist incident that occurred on Friday involving Karl Reid.

In an email to the Daily, TCU Parliamentarian Taylor Lewis outlined the nature of the complaint against the Judiciary. Many details of this story, including who filed the complaint and its exact content, are still developing.

“Four members of the Tufts Community have filed a complaint against last semester’s TCUJ members, alleging a lack of recusal in the SJP referendum process which led to bias and further corruption in the TCUJ,” Lewis, a senior, said. “Specifically, Article 3 Subsection D 4a is alleged to have been breached.”

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Article 3 Subsection D 4a of the TCU Constitution states that “all persons appearing before the TCUJ have the right to a fair and impartial hearing on all matters requiring a binding vote … Members of the TCUJ will be recused from a particular hearing if any litigant can demonstrate to the Judiciary, prior to the beginning of a hearing, that a particular TCUJ member is not in a position to be objective.”

During the Senate meeting, Lewis explained that the Senate will hold a hearing against the Judiciary to review the complaint, as is mandated by the TCU Constitution. During the hearing, the senators will hear evidence from witnesses on both sides. They will also refer to the official written complaint and the Judiciary members’ formal responses. 

After the hearing, senators will vote via secret ballot to determine what, if any, disciplinary action to take against the Judiciary members.

Lewis anticipates that the hearing will be held during a closed session, meaning Tufts community members cannot attend. It is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 28.

TCU Diversity Officer Matthew Peña then led a discussion about the racist incident that occurred Friday during Reid’s presentation on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the field of engineering.

“It was really disrespectful and disappointing because it was clear that Dr. Karl Reid … had put so much time in putting together the material, and I applaud him for keeping his composure, but it definitely rattled everybody who was in the Zoom meeting,” Class of 2024 Senator Hadiya Giwa said in the meeting. 

Later, during the meeting’s open forum, multiple TCU senators expressed dissatisfaction with Tufts’ handling of incidents of racism on campus.

Latinx Community Senator Carolina Olea Lezama voiced frustration at what she feels is an insincere commitment to anti-racism from the university administration.

“[You can’t] just slap a name onto yourself and create committees to brand something when you’re never going to want to change the root problems,” Olea Lezama, a junior, said. “They’re putting a bunch of things to pretend, but … I just feel like there’s no way to ever get to the root of power.”

“I just feel like we’re always put to the side; we’re always not the priority because we’re not the ones with a lot of money, we’re not the donors, we’re not the ones who are at the table,” First Generation College Student Community Senator José Martinez, a junior, said. “It’s always going to have to be like this, unfortunately, for Black people [and] Latinos.”

TCU President Sarah Wiener then provided updates on several of the Senate’s ongoing projects.

Wiener, a senior, announced that the Senate will work with the Tufts University Social Collective to organize Wellness Week during what would normally be spring break. In addition to organizing mental health and mindfulness programming, the Senate will encourage professors not to assign heavy workloads or exams during that week, which will run from March 22–26.

Wiener also reported that several members of the TCU Senate Executive Board have met with University Infection Control Health Director and Assistant Professor Michael Jordan and Medical Director Marie Caggiano to begin longer-term discussions about how best to communicate with the student body about the status of COVID-19 on campus.

TCU Treasurer Sharif Hamidi briefly discussed the schedule for the upcoming budgeting season, the time of year when the Senate approves the annual budgets of the 300+ TCU-recognized student organizations. The process will begin the week of Feb. 8, when Hamidi, a senior, will lead mandatory budgeting trainings for all organizations who are requesting budgets.

Hamidi also submitted an abstract to the Senate that proposes the creation of a trust within the TCU Treasury. The trust would designate funds to be used for on-campus, in-person programming once the public health crisis is over. Hamidi explained that the funds would go toward planning events for recent graduates and current students who have missed out on traditional celebrations because of the pandemic. 

TCU Senate heard one supplementary funding request from the Robotics Club for a programming workshop it is holding for club members.

Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly identified the TCU Judiciary as the branch of TCU in which a proposed trust would be created. Hamidi’s submitted abstract proposed the creation of a trust within the TCU Treasury, not the Judiciary. The Daily regrets this error. 

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