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Tufts senior files age discrimination complaint

Posted by Your Town  January 30, 2013 06:07 PM

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A 20-year-old senior at Tufts University has filed an age discrimination complaint against the Senior Class Council for planning graduation activities that are restricted to students who are ages 21 or older.

The Tufts Community Union Judiciary, a branch of the student government, will review the complaint Thursday night, according to Judiciary Vice Chair Greg Bodwin. The judiciary will reach a decision before midnight, he said.

Bodwin said in a phone interview Wednesday that if the judiciary decides the complaint is valid, the Senior Class Council will be required to revise their events to include Tufts seniors of any age. This decision would apply to future senior events.

In a letter to the Tufts Community Union Judiciary in early January, Anjuli Branz wrote that because her student activities fee helps pay for senior events, “this age-based discrimination is unacceptable.”

“I hope that the judiciary will consider this issue very seriously as a threat to equity on our campus,” she wrote in the letter.

Bodwin said that while the Senior Class Council is funded by the student activities fee, senior events are mostly paid for by the students who purchase tickets. If the council found a new bar or club that would accommodate students who are 18 years or older, but the seniors would have to pay more.

“Ticket prices would go up pretty drastically,” he said.

Senior week lasts five nights, he said, and only one of the events is for students who are ages 21 or older.

Branz wrote in an e-mail that there are 10 other seniors who will not turn 21 until after graduation. Branz said she understand there are logistical problems, but that all seniors should be allowed to attend their senior week.

“I do not believe that logistical arguments are valid in the face of discrimination,
which this is as age is a protected category in the Tufts constitution,” she wrote. “I strongly believe that there are ways of making all senior events open to all seniors.”

She also wrote that there are venues in Boston that allow people who are under 21, and there are ways clubs and bars can distinguish whether a student is or is not legal to drink, such as using wristbands.

“I believe that all students on the Tufts campus should be treated equally and that any issue of discrimination, no matter how small, should be addressed,” she wrote.

An editorial published today in The Tufts Daily calls the complaint a false allegation of discrimination.

The editorial says, “the complaint leveraged against Senior Class Council Senior Night venues that restrict attendance to students of legal drinking age is an unnecessary debate and, while it might have a basis in reason, it stretches the concept of discrimination too thin.”

The writer of the editorial acknowledges Branz is in a difficult decision, but that the rest of the senior class should not be penalized.

“There is a time and place to allege discrimination,” the editorial says. “This is not it.”

Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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