While sitting in my off-campus house in Medford this afternoon and thinking about how the semester is coming to a close, I received a message from a friend and fellow student who expressed uncertainty about who to vote for in the Tufts Community Union (TCU) presidential elections. To them and to anyone reading this, I want to voice why I believe you should vote for Grant Gebetsberger for TCU president on April 23 and 24. As Grant’s friend for three years and fellow TCU senator for two, I have seen the dedication, hours and hours of work and truly inspiring amounts of energy he has put into pushing for the needs of students on campus. Here is what I think sets him apart.
Grant is a true leader in that his main objective is to amplify the voices of others and support them in their work. In the past, he partnered with student groups such as Active Minds and Ears for Peers to host a town hall about access to mental healthcare on campus and resources for first-year students becoming accustomed to life at Tufts. He helped set up the first budget transparency town hall that allowed students to ask administrators direct questions about the budget. Grant supports the work of student organizers and recognizes that the TCU Senate is not the sole creator of change on campus. Some of the most successful advocacy campaigns came from the amazing work of Tufts Climate Action (TCA) and Tufts Dining Coalition, which is why he believes TCU Senate should support the work of organizers with resources and institutional knowledge. Students have voiced to me personally that the resolution writing process is daunting and overly bureaucratic, highlighting the necessity of Grant’s plan to make the resolution writing process more accessible to members of the student body who are not on TCU Senate. He also hopes to make activism more accessible by helping student groups connect with administrators that are relevant to the project they are pursuing.
Grant knows how to identify a problem and fight hard to have it addressed. Most recently, he quickly responded to the Tufts shutdown due to COVID-19 by becoming an organizer in Tufts Mutual Aid (TMA). He worked with other members of TMA to organize a Google Form to match resources offered by students and community members to students that needed them. Grant also co-authored along with two other students a course guidelines proposal for the spring 2020 semester, in which they detailed new, equitable course guidelines so that all students, regardless of their situation, would be able to complete their classes online this semester. Looking to the future, Grant’s campaign platform states how he will continue to work to help the community rebuild after the shutdown. To address how the refunds received by some students were inadequate to their needs, Grant aims to push the university to make its refund decision-making process public and retroactively issue the refunds students deserve.
A vote for Grant is a vote for a more equitable Tufts experience. His work as a class senator and as diversity officer was and continues to be centered around advocating for more inclusive opportunities and support for underrepresented students on campus. He has produced real change by leading projects and collaborating with other students to install all-gender bathrooms in public buildings and establish new funding for the Group of Six centers. He has worked to hold the Tufts administration accountable for gender inequality in leadership, supporting faculty of color and committing to increasing the financial aid offered to students. I believe Grant is the candidate that has been most involved with marginalized communities on campus through his work. As president, I know that Grant will stress the importance of making the student body more representative of the population of our country by taking measures to increase the accessibility of our campus. He aims to advocate for Tufts to expand the unexpected hardship fund at the FIRST Center and fight for Tufts to accelerate its plan to make existing buildings compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Finally, Grant will fight for a more accessible admissions process that does not require standardized testing scores.
Lastly, Grant specifically addresses how he will push Tufts to lessen its impact in the current climate crisis. Thanks to the fabulous work of TCA, Tufts created the Responsible Investment Advisory Group (RIAG) to examine divestment from fossil fuels. As president, Grant will push the TCU Senate to elect a student representative to serve on the RIAG who shares a commitment to fossil fuel divestment and advocate for transparency in the work of the RIAG. In addition to divesting from fossil fuels, Grant believes that the university should seek alternative investments to minimize its carbon footprint and encourage renewable energy production. He will push the university to pursue solar power purchase agreements, thereby investing in renewable energy projects elsewhere in the United States.
I encourage the Tufts student body to elect a brilliant and determined champion for all students as your next TCU president. I am confident that Grant’s leadership will set the right tone for the TCU Senate and encourage the body to use its resources to lift up voices that often go unheard. I am excited and hopeful to see the change that is to come.