All 4 referenda pass at 2016 ASUC elections

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Mikaela Raphael/Staff

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All four ballot measures — including a declaration of the UC Berkeley student housing crisis, two student fees to fund campus sustainability projects and The Daily Californian’s operations, respectively, and a referendum to clarify language in the ASUC Constitution — passed during this year’s ASUC general elections.

The Constitutional Clarity and Consistency Amendment 2016, which passed with a 96 percent approval vote, seeks to clarify and correct the language of the ASUC Constitution. The referendum will allow closed sessions for sanctioning of officials, negotiations and bargaining, as well as expand the two-year term limit for the ASUC president to all executive officers and allow the ASUC Senate to create an inter­semester committee that can exercise the senate’s power over breaks, among other changes.

A similar referendum was passed last year, which also corrected language in the ASUC Constitution, reduced the ASUC president’s “veto window” from seven days to 72 hours and added an ASUC Judicial Council public defender position.

The Green Initiative Fund Renewal fee, or TGIF, referendum will implement a $8 student fee funding campus sustainability projects. With a 68 percent vote in favor, the fee will be applied  fall 2017 and be in effect for 10 years to spring 2027. TGIF first appeared as a referendum in 2007 as a $5 student fee, which was set to increase to $6 by 2017.

According to the TGIF ballot language, the $8 student fee will increase by one dollar every three years starting in 2020, covering both the cost of inflation and funding increased demand for future projects, with one-third of the fee going back to financial aid as per campus policy.

According to Jimmy Dunn, TGIF program associate and co-sponsor of the referendum, the fund provides between $200,000 to $300,000 every year to campus projects focused on environmental sustainability.

Dunn said he expects to see an increase in demand for grant applications for such projects, as well as potential large-scale infrastructure sustainability initiatives on campus.

“I’m glad that students are still inspired by sustainability on campus,” Dunn said. “Any time you’re putting up the student fee, you’re asking a lot.”

With a 93 percent vote in favor, the Declaration of and Action to Mitigate the Student Housing Crisis referendum demands that the campus work with the ASUC to build at least 6,000 additional beds for students’ housing near campus that will be run by either campus or a housing nonprofit. In addition, the language directs the ASUC to create a “comprehensive plan” for addressing the crisis. The referendum is the first comprehensive referendum to address the housing crisis, according to Matthew Lewis, co-sponsor of the bill and chair of the ASUC Student Housing Commission.

“There is still a lot of work to do,” Lewis said. “All of this referendum holds us accountable as well as the administrators.”

The Ink Initiative Student Fee, passed with a 72 percent vote in favor, is a $2.50 student fee that will help close the Daily Cal’s current operational deficit, with one-third going to campus financial aid. The fee replaces the existing $2 fee that passed in 2012 and expires in 2017.

According to Melissa Wen, the editor-in-chief and president of the Daily Cal, the passing of the initiative demonstrates students’ faith in the student newspaper’s value. The fee, she added, will be used largely to improve the digital product on both the editorial and the business side of the newspaper.

“We’re not going to use this money as an excuse to be complacent,” Wen said. “We feel more responsible than ever for serving the campus community in our future coverage.”

Jessie Qian covers student government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @jessieq96.

Clarification(s):
A previous version of this article may have implied that The Green Initiative Fund student fee was set to increase to $6 in 2017. In fact, it increased to $6 in the 2013-14 school year and was set to expire in 2017.

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  • Brian Carter

    Is there any way that we can hold ASUC members accountable on these initiatives? Will there be checkpoints, say next school year, where they will be required to give a presentation on the student housing crisis and profile what they’ve done?