Senate passes bill supporting Occupy Cal

The ASUC Senate passed a bill Wednesday night that supports the Occupy Cal movement, which includes a Nov. 9 walkout and noontime rally on Sproul Plaza, and finances buses to transport students to the upcoming UC Board of Regents meeting at UC San Francisco.

The bill, co-authored by Cooperative Movement Senator Elliot Goldstein and CalSERVE Senator Andrew Albright, provides support for the protest through newspaper advertisements and “standing in solidarity with students who choose to walk out on Nov. 9,” according to the bill.

The goal of the Occupy Cal movement, which will take place from Nov. 10 to 15, is to raise awareness of a potential 81 percent tuition increase over the next four years, according to Ricardo Gomez, a UC Berkeley senior and member of the Public Education Coalition, one of the groups sponsoring the event.

The bill allocates $200 from the ASUC Senate Only fund — in addition to a $500 grant requested from the Academic Opportunity Fund — toward the rental of one bus that will transport a total of students to the regents’ meeting Nov. 16 for public comment.

A previous version of the bill, passed by the senate before it decided to revisit the bill, had allocated $896 to help fund the rental of two buses. But because the board will not discuss a possible tuition increase at its next meeting — the topic will not come up for discussion until the board’s March meeting, according to UC Student Regent Alfredo Mireles Jr. — the senate decided to revisit the bill and knocked funding for the bill down by almost $700.

According to Albright, the Senate Only fund finances senate events and retreats.

At the external committee meeting Monday night, External Affairs Vice President Joey Freeman requested that his sponsorship of the bill be removed because he disagreed with the inclusion of the term “Occupy Cal” in the text of the bill.

“Some students do not align with the Occupy Cal movement, and this title might keep every student from participating,” Freeman said at the committee meeting. “I don’t want to create conditions that lead to the occupation of buildings.”

Although Freeman removed his sponsorship, “Occupy Cal” was ultimately kept in the text of the bill, following a 4-0 vote. Goldstein said that he felt the movement could be carried out in a manner that does not disrupt students’ rights to attend class while also raising awareness for the purpose of the outdoor encampment.

UC Student Regent-designate Jonathan Stein said that there are usually between 10 and 25 students who attend each regents’ meeting — some who participate in public comment and some who observe.

“I know that regents sometimes discuss among themselves what’s been said in public comment,” he said in an email. “Now really is the time to be heard.”

Mireles said that although the regents will not discuss the possible tuition increase at November’s meeting — this topic will be discussed at the March meeting — the students’ presence will be effective nonetheless.

“By getting out in front of the issue and speaking at the regents meeting before the one where the decision will actually be made, I think it will be more effective,” he said.

Chloe Hunt of the Daily Californian contributed to this report.

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