4 referendums pass, 1 fails in 2015 ASUC elections

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Tim Hyon/Staff

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Four ballot measures — two that include a total of $81.50 in mandatory semester campus fees to go into effect fall 2015, one pushing the campus to invest in solar panels and another that streamlines governing documents — passed in this year’s ASUC general elections. A referendum to increase the student activity fee did not pass.

The two approved fee referendums — the Giving Opportunities and Leadership Development Referendum and the Wellness Referendum — include a mandatory return of one-third of their increased revenue to financial aid, as per campus policy.

The Giving Opportunities and Leadership Development fee, which passed with a 42.6 percent approval vote, will support “nontraditional students” — including first generation, low-income, underrepresented, transfer, undocumented, student parent, re-entry, student veteran and foster youth students — through the expansion of the Centers for Educational Equity and Excellence, or CE3.

With a $19 per-semester rate, the fee is estimated to generate about $900,000 in its first year. This will be used to increase staff, expand student employment opportunities, institute programming budgets and develop resources such as seminars for new admits.

CalSERVE senator, bill sponsor and ASUC president-elect Yordanos Dejen said the referendum’s passage will allow the CE3 to keep up with the thousands of students who qualify in the Education Opportunity Program. She said she sees that the CE3 has a “direct relationship to campus climate.”

With a 89.7 percent vote in favor, the Solar Energy Reinvestment Referendum reflects student support for reinvestment by the campus and ASUC to finance solar panels on campus buildings and others, including Greek and co-op houses.

“Students showed that they care about it, and (now) administrators need to also make it a priority,” said CalSERVE senator and primary sponsor Haley Broder.

The wellness referendum is a $146 per-semester package including the renewal of recreational sports and intramural sports facility fees, a mandatory $8.50 fee to replace the current voluntary $10 RSF membership fee and a new $54 fee to go toward a campuswide wellness program.

Fifty-two percent of the revenue will go toward extending hours in University Health Services’ primary care. Thirty-one percent will go toward new services such as relaxation and yoga spaces. The rest will go toward programs regarding diversity, sexual assault prevention and support and toward the programs’ financial sustainability.

The expanded services will be accessible to all undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Program.

According to the bill, the funding model and wellness program outlined by the referendum is the first of its kind among UC campuses. The fee — which is set to last until spring 2045 — will be charged every fall and spring semester and will be reduced in the summer.

The Constitutional Clarity & Consistency Amendment will close loopholes and clarify language in parts of the ASUC Constitution, as well as reduce the ASUC president’s “veto window” to 72 hours from seven days and add an ASUC Judicial Council public defender position. The amendment also protects private student records from public disclosure and establishes an impeachment process for elected officials

Although senate vice chair and bill sponsor Alek Klimek said he hopes the impeachment aspect is not used any time soon, he believes it is necessary and said it would be an extensive three-step practice.

The Bringing Life to the UC Berkeley Experience fee — which would have increased the ASUC student activity fee by $20 per semester — failed to pass with a 36.8 percent vote against and a 30.3 percent vote abstention. The student activity fee, as a mandatory campus-based fee, is currently $27.50 per semester.

Heyun Jeong is a news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @heyunjeong.

Clarification(s):
A previous version of this article may have implied that the Solar Energy Reinvestment Referendum passed with only a 72.5 percent. In fact, that percentage included voters who abstained and the referendum actually passed with 89.7 percent in favor.