ASUC senator works to improve access to student-cooperative funding

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Michael Drummond/Senior Staff

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CalSERVE-Cooperative Movement Party Senator Austin Pritzkat is working to push forward funding opportunities after a year without a representative from the Berkeley Student Cooperative on the ASUC Senate.

As the main representative of the BSC within the ASUC, Pritzkat has worked to improve access to financial resources for the group through the Cooperative Opportunity Fund. This fund is under the discretion of the senate. Student appeals for funding are reviewed by the ASUC standing committee on finance on a weekly basis.

The BSC is a nonprofit housing cooperative founded in 1933 in response to the economic crisis that left many students unable to afford housing.

Pritzkat is working to figure out an allocation plan for the fund. The $14,000 within the fund can be used to help the houses and apartment cooperatives within the system fund programs and events that promote philanthropy, academic interests, leadership, career development, health and skill sharing.

The fund was created in spring 2013 by Cooperative Movement Party senator Jorge Pacheco and CalSERVE senator Nolan Pack — Pack was later the ASUC executive vice president. The funding became available for the 2013-14 school year, but it was not allocated until spring due to the absence of a senatorial representative of the BSC, according to ASUC Finance Officer Dennis Lee.

“Being the co-op senator, it’s my responsibility to make sure our community has access to all the funding it can,” Pritzkat said. “This fund was created by my predecessor (Jorge Pacheco) to improve and expand BSC community events, so it’s important that I carry this out.”

The funds for this year will be allocated later this month, after Pritzkat works with BSC members and the BSC Board of Directors to ensure the funds are allocated in a “cooperative” manner.

“I want to move forward with spending the money in a way that all the houses and the community benefit equally or at least proportionally,” Pritzkat said.

Lee said that last spring, Pritzkat worked from within the ASUC Office of the President — where he was chief of staff for DeeJay Pepito — to encourage students within the cooperative system to apply for the fund, which was depleted by the end of the term. Members of the ASUC then decided to increase the amount within the fund from $10,000 to $14,000.

Pritzkat recently sponsored a bill that amended the fund’s bylaw, which, among other things, added events that focus on harm reduction to the list of eligible funding recipients and made minor changes to some funding limits.

Pritzkat additionally said in an email that because this is the first year the funding will be allocated in the fall semester, he is looking forward to seeing how it will be used by the community in the upcoming year.

Michelle Pitcher covers student governmentContact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @michellepitcher.