ASUC Senate introduces four bills at first meeting of the year

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Although no bills were voted on at the first ASUC Senate meeting of the year Wednesday night, a number of executive officers gave reports detailing the progress they have made and the initiatives they plan to tackle this year.

External Affairs Vice President Safeena Mecklai said voter registration forms had been ordered for every person living in the residence halls in an effort to increase voter registration. She also discussed her plans to bridge the gap between UC Berkeley students and the city of Berkeley by encouraging student involvement in events such as Sundays on Telegraph, a weekly fair that closes off two blocks on Telegraph Avenue.

Executive Vice President Nolan Pack announced that the senate meetings would soon be available via podcast to make them more accessible to students. Pack emphasized the importance of increasing transparency and said the podcasts would allow students and community members to comment online about bills and debates at senate meetings.

Four bills were sent to various senate committees for further review. The first bill, SB 1, authored by Pack, is titled Bill in Support of the Advocacy Agenda. Among other matters, the bill asks the senate to take action on everything from protesting budget cuts and library closures to promoting disaster preparedness on campus. The bill also emphasizes issues related to campus climate, including the development of a new and comprehensive strategy to report hate crimes on campus and increasing resources for LGBT students.

SB 2, titled Bill in Support of Undocumented Students and Immigrant Communities, asks ASUC President DeeJay Pepito to propose a review of incoming UC president Janet Napolitano’s selection, emphasizing the ASUC Senate’s support of undocumented youth and immigrant communities. Napolitano, who is currently the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, was announced as the new UC president in June. However, her appointment was not without controversy, as she has faced significant criticism from students who say her record on security, surveillance and immigration is of serious concern.

The third bill, in support of Northside student residents, is a response to the Berkeley Student District Campaign map, which aims to create a student-majority district in the city of Berkeley. However, as it is currently drawn, the district would exclude certain Northside co-ops as well as International House and three campus residence halls. The proposed bill resolves that the ASUC will not support any student district plan that excludes the Northside co-ops.

A final bill asked that $300 be allocated to the campus organization Conflict Free Campus Initiative at Berkeley, which promotes activism to bring peace to the Congo.

The next ASUC Senate meeting will take place Sept. 11.

Jane Nho covers student government. Contact her at [email protected].