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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, April 23, 2024

TCU senators reflect on first months back in session

As senators aim to change meal swipe policy and improve Tufts WiFi, many of the senate’s current initiatives are led by first-year senators.

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A TCU Senate meeting is pictured on Nov. 12.

Members of the Tufts Community Union Senate, which has officially been in session for over two months, report feeling both spirited and productive. With seven new senators from the Class of 2027 in its ranks, various projects have begun to take shape, many of them led by first-year senators.

Meal swipe reform, a central point on many of the new senators’ campaigns, is in the midst of turning from campaign promise to legislation. The TCU Senate is currently working on passing resolution S23-8, which proposes that students be able to use multiple meal swipes at retail dining locations on campus per meal period. Senator Anand Patil, who represents the Class of 2026, said, “We had our first meeting with administrators … It was a very positive response all around. They were happy that we met with them. They’re looking forward to having us continue conversation.”

However, Patil noted that progress on this issue will not be swift.

“We are having our next meeting next month,” he said. “I think that’s going to be a continuing conversation throughout this year and maybe even more years to come. But we’re hoping to see some progress made in some areas somewhere by the end of this semester or the end of this year.”

Senator Jackie Brand, who represents the Class of 2027, is currently working on adding more trash cans to the upper campus.

“On the upper campus, there’s like one trash can, and I feel like there’s always trash all over Res Quad,” she said in an interview with the Daily. “I’m trying to figure out a way to put out trash cans … [and] stop people from littering.”

Senator Brendan French, also a first-year senator, is working on extending the hours of Tufts Health Service to weekends. He is looking to meet with Sonya Satinsky, executive director of health and wellness, after Thanksgiving to discuss his ideas.

“One of the freshmen that lives in Houston with me … asked if I could see if [Health Service] could start being open on the weekends,” he said. “I’m hoping to pitch some ideas for how … we can solve that, because students don’t stop getting hurt on the weekends. We still get sick.”

First-year senator Aaron Dickson’s project to improve Tufts Wi-Fi has also garnered attention. As French explained, “Dickson … is currently working with tech services. They’re sending out a survey asking students where they notice they’re having Wi-Fi problems. I know Wi-Fi is a big problem here sometimes.”

Kunal Botla, a first-year combined-degree student and the SMFA Senator, has been working on bridging the gap between the SMFA and Medford campuses. One of his primary issues has been with increasing funding for SMFA clubs. As Patil explained, “[TCU gives] the SMFA student government a lump sum of money at the start of the year, and we found that we are falling short for most clubs. … For the first time in I think a long time, we have passed supplementary funding to increase their budgets.”

Botla is also working on resolving dining issues at the SMFA.

“Without [Botla], we would’ve had no clue about this disparity between the SMFA Café and how it affects combined and dual degree students,” Patil said. “The SMFA Café is a retail dining location, so [students] can only swipe once, not twice, per meal period. … On top of that, the hours aren’t good … There are classes that go later than the [hours for the] only dining center on [the SMFA] campus.”

The first-year senators are learning that their projects require time and concessions. In terms of meal swipe reform, French said, “Going into it we thought we would be able to get what we were asking for. … After going through the process, I realized that there’s a lot more to it.”

According to French, the administration reverted the meal swipe policy because it wasn’t financially viable for the school. Now, senators are hoping to convince the administration to change the policy back.

“Right now, what we’re doing is asking the school to run some more numbers [and] seeing if they can make some leeway, to please the students and make our meal plan more convenient for the whole student body, and especially for the freshmen,” French said.

Despite this, spirits remain high in the TCU Senate.

“I think so far [the first-year senators] have been doing a great job. Its very early on, and even quick projects take a long time to happen,” Patil said. “I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how they do.”