Reform the Board
While administrators run the school on a day to day basis, ultimate decision-making power lies with the Board of Trustees. Trustees sign off on tuition hikes, approve the construction of new buildings, and set tenure and promotion policy for professors. In a broader sense, they set the direction of the school.
The vast majority of trustees - three quarters - are appointed by the Board of Trustees itself. The remaining seats are reserved for elected alumni.
As a result of this selection process, the Board of Trustees tends not to reflect the diversity of economic background, racial identity, or lived experience of the full Tufts community. Nor does it include Tufts students or employees. This has a real effect on how Tufts, a multi-billion-dollar institution central to the lives of thousands of people, governs itself. Representation matters.
The solution is clear: put students, faculty, and staff on the Board of Trustees as full voting members. Many universities, including Cornell, Howard, and the UMass system, already do so.
Specifically, I strongly support replacing ten of the self-appointed seats with four student and six faculty/staff seats. The student seats will be divided evenly between undergraduate and graduate students. All seats will be elected through an open and democratic process.
In less than a decade, it will cost more than $100,000 a year to attend Tufts. Meanwhile, the percentage of students receiving financial aid is decreasing. Between 2011 and 2016, the proportion of students given financial aid by Tufts decreased from 43% to 37%.
Tufts' cost has real effects. As a need-aware school, Tufts reserves the right to discriminate against low-income and middle-class applicants in the admissions process. James Glaser, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, recently estimated that 200 students a year are rejected for their ability to pay.
Last year, I sponsored a student senate resolution calling on Tufts to commit to increasing the number of low-income and middle-class students admitted each year, and to limit tuition hikes or substantially increase financial aid. I will continue this work as a trustee.
We cannot simply fundraise our way to economic fairness. Schools like Harvard and MIT, with endowments the size of small countries, are an anomaly, not the norm. It is vitally important to refocus on core programs like education and research, save money where possible, and consider new educational models. This can be done while preserving the salaries and working conditions of employees. Tufts is, after all, preparing to spend $30 million on a swimming pool.