My grades are in for this year’s ASUC fall report card. As ASUC terms normally go, the fall semester did have its share of blunders, but those mistakes are more due to a structural weakness in the ASUC than the shortcomings of any one elected official. This report card is based on executive reports at senate meetings, bills passed on the floor, news articles and personal testimonies from the executives.
Overall work of the ASUC Senate: C
This year’s ASUC Senate class has been particularly partisan, much to the detriment of our student body. Senators avidly alienate those with opposing views and demean members of other parties with immature chuckles and unfair labels. Another problem with the senate exists in its lack of critical thinking, as seen in the brevity of meetings and the dearth of constructive dialogue compared to previous senate classes. This year, senate bills are voted on like wildfire, and even though most of the senate’s decisions have been on point, the lack of thoughtful criticism does not do the student body justice. Votes and comments look like attempts at appealing to spectators in the room rather than being geared toward bettering the university. One positive point to note is that the Committee on Constitutional and Procedural Review has actually been the best committee in recent memory under the leadership of Senators Nolan Pack and Jorge Pacheco. Both senators have worked fervently to lead the committee in revamping the bylaws and improving the structure of the ASUC. Overall, the ASUC Senate deserves a not-so-fun C for its work thus far.
Academic Affairs Vice President: A
Academic Affairs Vice President Natalie Gavello has led substantial initiatives that will last beyond her term. The Student Learning Center is now open 24 hours a day, an initiative also worked on by Gavello’s predecessor, Julia Joung. Her office will soon be awarding up to 16 RISE scholarships for students, including those who fall under AB 540 status. Gavello will also be personally leading a DeCal geared at exploring library usage and possible improvements to our facilities. The list goes on and on. Just two years ago, the AAVP office was near obsolete under the helm of Viola Tang, but Gavello has quickly transformed the role into the prominent position it deserves to be. Letter Grade: A.
External Affairs Vice President: B+
As one of the best speakers on campus, External Affairs Vice President Shahryar Abbasi undoubtedly fulfills his role as the external voice of UC Berkeley as aptly as his predecessor, Joey Freeman. With the success of the ASUC Vote Coalition in gathering thousands of voter registration forms and the large support garnered for Proposition 30, Abbasi probably did more for higher education during the current election than all UC Student Association members combined. Education was done right by Abbasi’s work this November, but he does need to pick up the pace post-elections. The presence of his office has waned, and he needs to move beyond post-election euphoria and continue the battle for higher education. Abbasi did neglect significant segments of the campus community when he failed to get input from diverse communities for a contentious UCSA resolution, but it seems that he will act differently in the future. In light of his successes and disappointments, Abbasi deserves a B+.
Executive Vice President: A-
The imminent destruction of Eshleman Hall has plagued Executive Vice President Justin Sayarath with an inhumane workload. “Surge” — the process of moving the ASUC and student groups out of Eshleman and into Hearst Gym — was a logistics nightmare that his predecessor, Chris Alabastro, tranquilized and Sayarath slew. The ASUC Internship program has housed the most interns yet, a feat credited to Sayarath’s office. Sayarath has also been more than fair in leading senate meetings, being blind to party politics as he tries to keep the peace in the hyperpartisan senate chambers. The Senate Leadership Training could have been structured better, but Sayarath has done well in almost every other respect. Sayarath will have to be proud of an A-, a grade still worthy of respect and admiration.
President: A -
Our ASUC president has shown that he possesses exceptional leadership skills, patience during negotiations and skill in his ability to unite students. Landgraf knows when to step up and when to step back, a leadership skill that big personalities like last year’s Vishalli Loomba sometimes forgot. He stepped up during November elections and led the Rock the Vote concert that may have been the best attended showing of student support on our campus this year. Landgraf stepped back by fully supporting the eloquent Abbasi’s participation in the chancellor selection advisory committee, a glamorous task that would usually go to the president. AC Transit has also been visibly influenced by Landgraf’s hand in negotiations, as seen in the survey sent out to students in order to better AC Transit services. His actions should be a bit tougher with administrators, but he will hopefully learn this as his term progresses. No doubt Landgraf deserves a solid A-, and that’s coming from someone who lost to his 80th percentile biceps and charming smile.
Although people may enjoy reading a scathing criticism with F’s handed out like candy, the truth of the matter is that most of this year’s ASUC has exceeded expectations. And, as always, the Student Advocate’s office has been superb under Stacy Suh, so her grade of A+ is a given. At the other end, the senate has a long way to go, but what else do you expect when parties choose to run people who are popular rather than those who are most qualified? Keep on keepin’ on.