One day before a major transition for the ASUC’s administrative branch officially took effect, both the incoming and outgoing ASUC Senate classes came together to write a letter in strong opposition to the change, referring to the process as a “breach of our trust” and stating that the relationship between the ASUC and the campus is “tarnished before the academic term has commenced.”
Similarly, a resolution was unanimously approved by the outgoing senate Thursday citing “extreme disappointment that the Administration rapidly forced through this transition.” Both the letter and the resolution demand a Memorandum of Understanding — a document which explicitly states an agreement between parties — to address student concerns with the transition process.
These actions oppose the shift of the oversight of the ASUC Auxiliary from Administration and Finance to the campus Division of Student Affairs, a change which became official July 1. The decision was made almost two months ago, and though the campus has said the transition is occurring at this time because it coincides with the start of the campus’s fiscal calendar, the student government has been critical of the timing since many students are not on campus.
Furthermore, the resolution also expresses concern with the “immediate and rather enigmatic leave” of ASUC Auxiliary Director Nadesan Permaul, who retired June 29 after 33 years of employment at UC Berkeley.
A primary concern illustrated in the letter and resolution addresses the Commercial Activities Agreement between the UC Board of Regents and the ASUC which created the ASUC Auxiliary, dated March 19, 1998. The resolution refers to the Auxiliary’s reorganization as a “breach of spirit and good faith of the CAA.”
“The Auxiliary shall not undertake any function not directly related to ASUC Student Activities or ASUC Commercial Activities,” the agreement states.
While the senate classes acknowledge in the letter that such a transition for the Auxiliary may occur under the agreement, they also refer specifically to the intent of the agreement, stating that it was founded on the principle of creating an Auxiliary which manages solely ASUC commercial and business activities.
“Therefore, this transition not only is a clear breach of our trust and faith in our university’s administration, but also has forced us to reconsider whether this university shares or even cares for the core mission of the ASUC to serve the students as an autonomous student government,” the letter states.
But campus administrators maintain that the purpose of the realignment is to improve the functionality of the Auxiliary, though the full effects of the transition are not yet known.
“The transition team will conduct an assessment of the Auxiliary,” said Felicia Lee, chief of staff for the Office of Student Affairs, in an email. “The overall goal of the realignment was … to better support the Auxiliary in delivering services to its constituents.”
As a result of the transition, the auxiliary reports to Jonathan Poullard, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students. However, Graduate Assembly President Bahar Navab said a better fit would be to house the Auxiliary as its own unit reporting directly to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande.
“There are other ways to achieve what they want without going against what students want,” Navab said.
Both senate documents also specifically take issue with a conflict of interest they state would occur when the Student Advocate’s Office — which advises students in matters of student conduct — is too closely related to the Center for Student Conduct and Community Standards, which pursues student conduct violations and is housed under student affairs.
“The ASUC Auxiliary under (Administration and Finance) is like water and oil, and was set up that way intentionally to maintain separation,” said Cooperative Movement Senator Elliot Goldstein in an email. “By moving the Auxiliary under Student Affairs it is like water and water, and can be mixed easily — not knowing where one begins and the other ends.”
According to Student Advocate Samar Shah, an immediate conflict of interest would not be present because his office’s operations are not effected by those of the Auxiliary, though he said the overall transition “goes completely against what the intent of the Auxiliary was.”
“Some people in the administration are exploiting this opportunity to expropriate authority from the ASUC and students,” Goldstein said in the email. “However, the students have more leverage over the situation then you might suspect, and the administration needs to be careful in how they’re treating us.”
Allie Bidwell and J.D. Morris are news editors.