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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, May 26, 2024

Editorial: Vote ‘yes’ on the TCU constitution referendum

On Wednesday, the Tufts Community Union Senate will bring a new TCU constitution to referendum by the student body. Voting will begin at noon and conclude the next day, Thursday, Feb. 2, at noon.

We urge students to vote to ratify the new constitution in order to create a safer, more inclusive community.

Perhaps the most meaningful provision is that found in Article VII of the new constitution: “All TCU recognized student clubs and organizations will be required to attend a Green Dot training at least once per academic year.”

The clause provides that for every 10 members of a TCU-recognized student organization, at least one member of the club’s executive board must attend a Green Dot training session and provide attendance records to the TCU Senate Green Dot Liaison. Those who attend the Green Dot training are then required to facilitate a scheduled discussion of the material covered in the training to their entire organization.

Clubs and organizations that fail to comply will be ineligible for TCU funding and recognition.

This is certainly a deserving issue. Varsity athletic teams are already required by the NCAA to undertake this type of training. But, as we noted last spring, TCU-recognized clubs and organizations are currently not required to undertake any sexual assault prevention training.  

Tufts University as an institution has a history of gender-based violence. A 2021 investigation by the Daily reported that Tufts’s Center for Awareness, Resources and Education saw a 300% increase in cases of domestic violence and abuse reported since the pandemic shut down campus in the spring of 2020. 

Student clubs and organizations are common perpetrators of gender-based violence. A 2016 article by Ben Kesslen in the Tufts Observer detailed gendered violence at a fraternity hazing ritual, and the survivor of sexual assault at “Tier Town” has reminded campus that activist groups and progressive organizations are not immune to this type of violence. 

Currently, Tufts student clubs and organizations can request Green Dot training, as did the Interfraternity Council in the aftermath of Kesslen’s piece, but training for all TCU-funded organizations is not required by the current TCU constitution. 

We have previously called for as many on-campus clubs and organizations to be Green Dot certified as possible.

Though enacting these reforms will not undo the pain inflicted upon survivors at Tufts, we hope that it will help foster a more safe environment. This is, therefore, a long-anticipated change. 

Beyond mandating Green Dot training, the new constitution also democratizes campus. It recognizes two new community senators — representing the Disability and Indigenous Centers. In doing so, it ensures that the voices of historically marginalized students are uplifted and centered in campus policy making. 

It also provides a simple process for creating new community senator seats in the future. Now, “any TCU recognized student organization, university center, individual members of the TCU, or TCU Senators may petition the TCU Senate for a community senator seat by submitting a written request to the TCU Senate Executive Board.”

Previously, only a “student organization or university center” could file a petition to the student government for a new community senator seat, and 250 signatures were required before being considered. The new constitution only requires those petitioning for a new community senator to submit a writ for the Senate to hear their position. 

Given that these seats are intended to uplift historically marginalized voices at Tufts, requiring 250 signatures is a significant barrier to entry for some groups and identities.  As such, removing this requirement and replacing it with a petition any individual can write themselves democratizes campus, increasing access for those working to make Tufts a more inclusive community.  

Finally, the new constitution uses more inclusive language rather than outdated and rudimentary phrases from Tufts’ past. One such provision is removing the term “Group of Six Centers,” a phrase previously used when referencing “the Africana, Latino, LGBT, Women’s, International and Asian American Centers.” 

The “Group of Six” was renamed the Division of Student Diversity and Inclusion in 2020 as part of Tufts’ broader restructuring of its DEIJ institutions and commitments. DSDI has subsequently expanded to represent the Africana, Latinx, Asian American, LGBTQIA+, FIRST+, Women’s and International Centers as well as the Indigenous Center which opened in the fall of 2021 and the Center for STEM Diversity. 

The constitution also updates its language to conform with university diction. “Freshman” is replaced with “first-year,” and “LGBT” is replaced with “LGBTQIA+.” 

While these changes cannot currently be made without a referendum before the student body, the new TCU constitution provides such that “at any time the wording of [the] Constitution is in conflict with the wording of University Policy, the Policy of the University shall be automatically substituted by the CSL in place of the existing passage.”

By permitting amendments to the terms used in the constitution to bypass a campus-wide referendum, TCU acknowledges a future of continued progress. These constitutional provisions have minimal effects in the short run to create an anti-racist institution, but they establish a framework through which progress can continue to be pursued.

Given this, as well as its provisions mandating Green Dot training, we implore students to vote in favor of the new constitution in support of a safer, more equitable university.