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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, September 25, 2023

TCU Senate establishes $1,164,000 Pandemic Activities Restoration Trust

Tufts Students picnic and relax on Prez Lawn on a sunny day.

The Tufts Community Union Senate approved a treasury resolution allocating $1,164,000 of Treasury funds toward the Pandemic Activities Restoration Trust on March 7. These funds are to be used for campus events and other university celebrations when COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted and it is safe to do so.

The purpose of the trust is to provide enhanced celebrations in the future for students who have been affected by pandemic-related cancellations, according to the resolution submitted by TCU Treasurer Sharif Hamidi.

The resolution passed with overwhelming support from student senators. About half of the funds will go to post-pandemic events for students in the classes of 2020 and 2021. The other half is expected to go toward events benefiting students who will be on campus in coming years. 

Hamidi, a senior, said the funding for the Pandemic Activities Restoration Trust, which comes from existing treasury funds, was already set aside exclusively for use in student activities. All funds from the TCU Treasury come from the university’s activity fee, which is part of the cost of attendance and was $396 for the 2020–21 school year, according to Hamidi.

"We were exploring a number of possibilities with what we could do with this money knowing that it was limited to being spent on student activities … because that's what the money originates from," Hamidi said. "We wanted to … do something that was meaningful in terms of programming."

According to the resolution, the Tufts University Social Collective and the Office for Campus Life will be involved in the allocation of these funds.  

"Funds totaling $1,164,000.00 shall be placed into the Trust, to be spent in accordance with the budget included in Appendix A of this Resolution, and [the Tufts University Social Collective] and [the Office for Campus Life] shall be jointly responsible for developing and providing an annual report to the TCU Treasury detailing that year’s usage of the funds in the Trust," the resolution said.

Hamidi said that a significant portion of the projected budget for student activities was not spent due to the school closure and the following event cancellations in the spring 2020 semester and beyond. 

“At the end of last year, it ended up being $800,000 [left over]," Hamidi said. "Using some conservative estimates of what we expect unspent funds to be this year … we did see that there was going to be over a million dollars of unspent money sitting in the Treasury." 

Hamidi mentioned that, to his knowledge, a treasury resolution such as this has not been passed before. The Senate resolutions process is primarily meant to be directed by the administration or university leadership because its main purpose is to push for certain policy changes.

“It's rare that resolutions get written from a treasury perspective, because usually, the Senate is able to appropriate money and do things as necessary, as long as the appropriate guidelines are being followed,” Hamidi said. “But, you know, we're sort of facing unprecedented circumstances and I think that calls for taking unprecedented steps, and so that's how this trust came to be.” 

TCU Senate Historian Sarah Tata confirmed in an email to the Daily that there has never been a treasury resolution passed before this most recent meeting. 

According to the resolution, the plans include funding to enhance events such as Homecoming, Tuftonia’s Day and Spring Fling, with budget items including food trucks and carnival rides. The resolution also notes that funds will be allocated to Senior Galas for the classes of 2020 and 2021 that will function as reunions. The funding for these galas includes money set aside for venue rentals, catering and entertainment, among other costs.

Hamidi said that a focus of the fund’s budget was fairness and equity for students. He emphasized that the goal of the resolution was to provide meaningful experiences to replace graduation traditions lost by the class of 2020 and 2021, as well as equal funding toward benefits and enhancements for current students who have not been able to experience traditional Tufts events. 

"The purpose of the second half of the funds in the trust is so that for the next four years, everybody who is currently at Tufts will be able to experience bigger and better and more ambitious versions of those events," Hamidi said. 

Hamidi added that the events for recent alumni are expected to be free of charge for the members of these class years, including housing and food. The approved budget covers the cost of the event as long as the students are able to return to Boston. 

"Taking those burdens away [will allow graduates to] just focus on sort of having this event and being in a community with their graduating class one more time because the pandemic took that away from them," Hamidi said. "[This] was something that mattered to me."