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Judiciary: No discrimination in Senior Night complaint

Published: Friday, February 1, 2013

Updated: Friday, February 1, 2013 11:02

 

The Tufts Community Union (TCU) Judiciary refuted charges of discrimination in a complaint filed by senior Anjuli Branz against the Senior Class Council for choosing Senior Night venues restricted to those 21 and older. 

“The TCU Judiciary finds the Senior Class council not guilty of discrimination or any other violation of the TCU Constitution under any condition, particularly in regards to age,” Judiciary chair Adam Sax wrote in the body’s decision. 

The decision came following a hearing Thursday night where Branz and members of the Senior Class Council discusses the complaint and clarified their arguments in opening and closing statements.

Branz argued that  the premise of Senior Nights, traditionally held throughout the school year and during Senior Week at bars restricted to students of legal drinking age,  qualifies as age discrimination under the TCU Constitution. The constitution bans TCU-recognized organizations — like Programming Board, the parent organization for the Senior Class Council — from basing participation, “membership, rank or voting privilege” on age.

Several members of the Senior Class Council argued that the Constitution’s wording does not apply to specific events that a TCU-recognized organization plans. 

While she said the policies of the bars themselves are not discriminatory because they fall under Massachusetts’ drinking age law, Branz said the Senior Class Council’s hosting events there is discriminatory because such events inhibit some seniors from the opportunity to participate. No student who has not yet turned 21 at the time of the event may buy a ticket. 

Branz said she is one of ten seniors who will not turn 21 by Senior Week in May, which includes a number of Senior Nights. 

Asked by Judiciary chair Adam Sax, a senior, to define discrimination, Branz argued that the 21-plus policy prohibits her from participating in an event that should be open to all.  

“What is the point of a Senior Night?,” she asked. “If the purpose is not drinking, then the law that you need to be 21 doesn’t have anything to do with the event,” Branz said at the hearing. “I don’t think that the nature of Senior Night can’t be changed to be in accordance with the TCU Constitution,” Branz said at the hearing. 

Inaccessibility to an opportunity — like buying a ticket — is not the same as her denial to a right that other students are granted, Sax said. 

Moving Senior Night to a more age-inclusive venue would have hiked the price and limited the number of tickets available to students. Spaces available to larger groups that are not restrictive by age are not on par with the safety standards needed for bussing seniors off campus, Office for Campus Life (OCL) Assistant Director David McGraw said.

Senior Night tickets cost $10. Because the Senior Class Council has worked with Boston-area bars ― most of which are restricted to those 21 and older — the council only uses Senate-allocated money for buses, event staff and a DJ. 

Before the hearing Thursday night, Branz met with McGraw to discuss a compromise. Rather than request 18 and older venues all remaining Senior Nights, Branz had proposed keeping two Senior Nights at bars restricted to 21 and older students in a Wednesday meeting with McGraw. 

Branz discussed her revised idea with the Senior Class Council Thursday afternoon before the hearing. Members of the Senior Class Council said such a compromise demonstrated that the complaint didn’t constitute discrimination. 

“If this was truly about discrimination it shouldn’t be an if-and-then situation,” McGraw said at the hearing. 

Branz has 10 days to appeal the decision through the Committee on Student Life. 

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