ASUC Senate to debate bill asking senators to wear nametags

The ASUC Senate meets on Sept. 18. A bill authored by Independent Campaign for Common 
Sense Senator Solomon Nwoche aims to encourage senators and administrators to wear nametags
Kore Chan/File
The ASUC Senate meets on Sept. 18. A bill authored by Independent Campaign for Common Sense Senator Solomon Nwoche aims to encourage senators and administrators to wear nametags

Although a recently introduced ASUC Senate bill that asks senators to wear magnetic nametags is intended to increase ASUC transparency, it has been met with skepticism by senators and students alike.

The bill, SB 21, authored by Independent Campaign for Common Sense Senator Solomon Nwoche, asks senators to wear nametags around campus and in class. It also asks ASUC Student Advocate Timofey Semenov to write a letter encouraging campus administrators to do the same.

“The motive behind my bill is for students to be able to identify their elected officials so they can hold them accountable,” Nwoche said. “Theoretically, students can already search us through a search engine and see who we are anyways. All this nametag does is put this search into a more transparent form.”

Nolan Pack, the ASUC executive vice president, said the ASUC has already taken steps to improve its transparency. He said that the ASUC has made its agendas and meeting schedules more accessible online and that it has also begun webcasting senate meetings.

“I’m a strong proponent of making the ASUC more transparent and more accessible, and I want to make sure we’re using our time and resources to achieve that goal in a substantive way,” Pack said in an email. “As far as SB 21, it remains unclear to me whether or not this bill will promote transparency in a meaningful way.”

Some UC Berkeley undergraduates say they are unsure whether the nametags would be useful within the campus community. UC Berkeley sophomore Elena Behar said most students on campus already know who the ASUC executive officials and senators are through general interactions.

“I’m not sure if people would just want to go up to people and talk to (the ASUC senators and executive officials),” Behar said. “I think relationships (between students and senators) could also be altered, because people could feel that they’re potentially influencing senator decisions.”

Although the bill would not require senators to wear nametags, it would strongly encourage them to do so. Members of the senate, however, said the nametags could create obstacles in their everyday lives.

SQUELCH! Senator Grant Fineman said that although the bill might increase the transparency and visibility of the senate, there are many drawbacks to it.

“It could also come off the wrong way, like we’re being arrogant, like we’re showing our position at all times,” Fineman said.

CalSERVE Senator Caitlin Quinn echoed Fineman’s concerns, saying the nametags would “assert our presence too much.”

“In the classroom, we’re there to learn, just like everyone else,” Quinn said.

SB 21 will be debated Monday at the senate finance committee’s meeting.