ASUC Senate meeting covers 3 bills, public concerns over sex harassment

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Mikaela Raphael/Staff

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The ASUC Senate met Wednesday to address the search for the next campus chancellor and hear three bills and public comment from the leaders of a demonstration against former UC Berkeley School of Law dean Sujit Choudhry.

The bills submitted this meeting address student concerns about safety while studying abroad and a new CalCentral system for sharing notes between advisers. Additionally, Associate Vice Chancellor of Residential & Student Service Programs Stephen Sutton announced a “Campus Day” set for Oct. 6, which will have chancellor search committee members present to hear the qualities that students want in the next chancellor.

SQUELCH! Senator Anthony Carrasco submitted a bill regarding the campus’ study abroad program and student safety while abroad. The bill originally was submitted in the summer to the intersemester committee but was tabled until more contact had been made between the Study Abroad department and the ASUC, Carrasco said in an email.

“This bill is going to open up formal dialogue on the subject of student safety when abroad,” Carrasco said in an email. “My hope’s that this dialogue will be an opportunity for growth in light of tragic circumstances … and what I hope to see is students involved in that aforementioned reflective process.”

Academic Affairs Vice President Frances McGinley sponsored another bill concerning the new note-sharing system for advisers. The bill aims to mandate informed consent from the student to input notes before anything is recorded, in order to give the student the authority to have information omitted at their discretion.

The new system was put in place to provide “institutional memory” for advisers when counseling students to prevent repeat or contradictory advice if the student sees multiple advisers, the bill said.

“This just popped up a bunch of red flags in my mind about privacy concerns and the lack of student awareness about this new system in CalCentral,” McGinley said.

McGinley added that in interviews, advisers felt uncomfortable with the new system because of confusion about what to input as students come forward with sensitive information in meetings.

Axenya Kachen and Pablo Gomez — the organizers of the protest — gave public comment on the success of the demonstration earlier that day and further condemned Choudhry and The Daily Californian for publishing Choudhry’s open letter. Kachen said that one goal of this movement was to “make sure no sexual predator feels safe on campus.”

Before their announcement began, Gomez criticized the previous speaker, Sutton, for participating in side conversations while Kachen and Gomez were speaking. Gomez emphasized the need for Sutton’s attention, as Sutton in his presentation also discussed sexual violence and harassment in his presentation.

“Pablo was correct to ask that the attention be focused on him, as it was his time at the podium,” Sutton said in an email. “After (Gomez) completed his remarks, I apologized to him for any interruption that may have occurred during his time.”

The next ASUC Senate meeting will take place Wednesday.

Contact Vera Esail at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @vesaildc.