The very first time I heard Joe Thibodeaus name was months before I matriculated on the Tufts academic quad. In May 2010, I was an excited high school senior who was eager, yet nervous, to graduate. I clearly remember having a conversation with my friend, Valerie Grim, who had just attended her boyfriends graduation. She told me that she had met another senior who would also be going to Tufts. As the class-elected speaker, Joe Thibodeau gave a rousing speech at his graduation, and afterwards Valerie told me that Thibodeau was an awesome kid. He will be president one day.
When I came to Tufts and met Joe Thibodeau at our work-study job in the Ginn Library, I instantly knew what Valerie was talking about. Simply seeing Joe interact with other Jumbos in the library, seeing how he greeted everyone with a genuine smile and was always willing to help with research, made me realize that Joe truly is someone special. He is a charismatic and collaborative co-worker, but, more importantly, a sincere and kindhearted friend.
And now here we are. Today, Joseph Thibodeau, along with fellow candidates Joseph Donenfeld and Christie Maciejewski, are seeking your vote for TCU President. It is with the utmost degree of confidence that I endorse Joe Thibodeau in his pursuit of this position.
I believe that Joe Thibodeau, given his involvement in many different student groups and his undeniable leadership skills, is best suited to act as next years TCU President. In years past, Senate has often received criticisms for being an organization composed of students who are out of touch with the general student body. This is not the case for Thibodeau. While at Tufts, Joe has demonstrated that he is one of us. He is not just a senate kid.
He is a highly involved Tufts student who in collaboration with many communities on our campus, has served as passionate advocate for students rights and needs within the halls of our student government. Thibs has been a FOCUS Leader, a TDC dancer, and a work-study employee at the Ginn Library.
He has performed in Tufts theater productions, he has spun tracks as a DJ at WMFO and he has deeply engaged the issues of poverty and homelessness in the city of Somerville as a Tisch Scholar. Thibodeau has been a member of all of these student groups while also serving as a key member of Senate for five of his six semesters at Tufts.
As a co-chairman of next years Programming Board, the student group that plans events such as Fall Ball, Winter Bash, Tuftonias Day, and Spring Fling and includes organizations like the Tufts University Spirit Coalition, Concert Series, Film Series, Lecturetainment and each Class Council, I am very excited about Joes record as a member of various student groups.
Thibodeaus platform includes ideas about promoting more collaboration between student groups, and I believe it is essential that our next TCU President understands firsthand the operations of many extracurricular groups on campus in order to make this vision a true reality.
From my experience as an organizer of campus programming, I know that the best events at Tufts are those that incorporate multiple student groups. These events, inspire creativity and reach a larger population of Tufts students.
I can wholeheartedly attest, given Thibodeaus collaborative work ethic and extensive platform, that he is the candidate with the most potential to unite our student body and, through his commitment to social opportunities, will bring all Jumbos together.
Many people on campus know of Thibodeaus successful record as an influential member of the TCU Senate one passionately committed to inclusive debate and progressive action.
Throughout his tenure, Joe has funded and budgeted student groups as a member of the Allocations Board, he lobbied administrators and a member of Senates executive board, he has established precedent as the first ever Diversity and Community Affairs officer and has acted productively and efficiently as Chair of the Cultural, Ethnicity and Community Affairs committee.
Thibodeaus record highlights without a doubt that he is a champion for historically marginalized communities on campus.
That said, through his collaborative nature and personal connection to so many groups and organizations, Thibodeau hopes to enact a vision that will champion the voice of all students and make Tufts a better place for us all.
One of Joes ideas that most appeals to me is his pledge to lobby Tufts administrators to include internship grant funding as a major university fundraising priority. This summer, a good friend of mine plans to work an unpaid internship that also requires that he receive academic credit for his efforts.
He not only will be living away from home and paying thousands of dollars for summer student housing, but he will also will be charged $1,200 by Tufts in order to register for summer classes required for the transfer of internship credit.
For many students on our campus, this situation is not economically feasible. Though Tufts does already offer some limited funding resources for interns, Thibodeau hopes to increase this funding so that all students may one day have the opportunity to engage in these experiential learning opportunities that have grown increasingly essential to tack on a resume in a highly competitive post-graduation job market.
Joe Thibodeau also hopes to improve club sports on our campus. Club sports athletes face many hurdles, the highest of which tends to be issues with budgeting. Personally, I know a club sports team that has faced several difficulties while trying to schedule games because their budget has been so limited.
Athletes of all skill levels should be able to pursue their endeavors without worrying about supplementing the teams funds with their own personal contributions.
Thibodeau hopes to create a fund with unused TCU surplus money that members of club sports and student organizations can apply to for financial assistance in paying additional registration fees.
This project would not only ease the personal financial burdens of athletes, but would also move us toward a more equitable Tufts where all students are able to pursue their passions and interests. I stand with Joe. We all deserve this.
Looking at todays election, we have three candidates for TCU President, each of whom has served as a senator since freshman year, and each of whom has showed that they are dedicated to serving the student body.
However, Thibs gets us. I believe that his dedication to fighting for marginalized communities, combined with his understanding of what life as a Tufts student is really like, makes him the ideal candidate.
I am not the only person who feels this way. Even now, as Joe is studying abroad in Madrid, Spain, almost one hundred students on campus are actively campaigning for him.
I am confident that, if you explore each candidates platform and senate voting record, Joes genuine and inclusive personality, and his creative platform for Tuftss future speak strongly to the Tufts that we, as a diverse and engaged student body, need and deserve.
Jon Bird is a junior majoring in sociology. He can be reached at Jonathan.Bird@tufts.edu.