CalSERVE removes 2 senators from party after disputes, senators go independent

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CalSERVE, the UC Berkeley political party represented as a progressive coalition, removed senators Harshil Bansal and Carmel Gutherz from its party Friday after several ongoing disagreements.

In separate emails sent Friday to Bansal and Gutherz, CalSERVE party chair Victoria Ann Berdin told the senators that their affiliations with CalSERVE were effectively terminated. Bansal was removed because his ideologies conflicted with the party’s, and Gutherz was removed because of inadequate “actions and behaviors,” the emails revealed.

In a statement released Friday on Facebook, Bansal said his views on issues of police presence on campus and free speech differed from those of the party as a whole. Gutherz also released a statement on Facebook on Friday, confirming that she had disaffiliated from CalSERVE. Both senators will remain on the ASUC Senate as independently represented members.

“I respect that the new transforming CalSERVE is no longer accepting of elected officials with contrasting viewpoints,” Bansal said in his statement.

Gutherz said in an email that disagreements between herself and the CalSERVE party have existed since the elections in April, but were left unresolved as the 2017-18 academic year began. Gutherz added that she ultimately decided to disaffiliate for the sake of her mental health and the mental health of other members of the party.

Although Gutherz said in her statement on Facebook that her departure from CalSERVE was mutually agreed upon by herself and the party, Berdin said in an email that the party decided to disassociate with Gutherz after being put in “toxic situations.”

Berdin also said that Bansal failed to oppose hate speech on campus and support economic equity, leading the party to disassociate with him.

Bansal ran for the 2017-18 ASUC Senate on platforms of easing the housing search process for students and holding the ASUC more accountable, while Gutherz’s platforms were related to supporting the retention of transfer students and marginalized communities.

“Although my party affiliation has changed, my core values of equity, inclusiveness and social justice have not and will not change,” Gutherz said in her statement. “My narrative as a disabled, low-income transfer student has been shaped by the work that I hope to continue to do in the Senate.”

Contact Azwar Shakeel and Harini Shyamsundar at [email protected].