The night before Chancellor Robert Birgeneau announced that he will be stepping down at the end of this calendar year, an ASUC Senate committee voted not to support a bill that would have put a referendum before students asking if the ASUC should call for Birgeneau’s resignation.
In a campuswide email announcement Tuesday, Birgeneau said he will step down from his position, which he has held since 2004. UC Berkeley senior William Skewes-Cox, who authored the senate bill, said in an email that the announcement will be regarded as a victory.
“No one will ever know the true role (the referendum) played in his decision, but undoubtedly students have made known on campus that we have not been happy with him, and his exit clears the way for a new — and hopefully better — chapter in our university’s history,” Skewes-Cox said in the email.
The bill claimed “distressingly repeated instances of excessive use of police force on non-violent students protesters” as well as “widespread discontent among students with privatization (and) fee hikes” as the main reasons the resignation was necessary.
Several senators voted against the referendum at Monday’s meeting of the Committee on Constitutional and Procedural Review, saying that doing so might seem like an endorsement by the ASUC.
CalSERVE Senator Ju Hong called Birgeneau a “very strong supporter of undocumented students on campus” and credited him with fighting for scholarships and financial aid opportunities.
Students who attended the meeting in support of the referendum asked the committee to approve it on the grounds that Skewes-Cox had received conflicting information regarding how many signatures he needed to collect in order to put the referendum on the ballot, which he said prevented him from gathering the necessary amount.
Although Skewes-Cox said there is no longer a need for the referendum, he said he will dedicate his remaining time on campus to organizing “a large degree of student involvement in the selection process” of a new chancellor.