ASUC Senate passes resolution in support of repealing Prop. 209 after debate

People sit at a semi circle desk while in a meeting. They have microphones up to their faces and notebooks and laptops open.
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The ASUC Senate passed eight resolutions at its regular Wednesday night meeting, two of which addressed the low Black student enrollment at UC Berkeley while another called for accommodations for students observing Ramadan during final exams.

Senator Amir Wright was the primary sponsor of two bills that were approved during the meeting. The first stood in support of repealing Proposition 209, which banned college campuses in California from considering race, sex and ethnicity in admissions decisions, and the second urged campus administration to act on the recommendations of a University of Southern California report, which ranked UC Berkeley the lowest of all UC campuses in terms of equity.

Both resolutions were initially introduced in November, but Wright tabled them in December so they could go through the University and External Affairs committee. All senators in the committee voted yes on both resolutions, with the exception of Senator Isabella Chow. At Wednesday night’s meeting, Senator Teddy Lake — who chairs the committee — asked Chow why she voted against the resolution regarding Prop. 209 and voted in favor of Wright’s other resolution in the committee’s meeting.

“I am completely supportive of recruitment and retention efforts,” Chow said during the meeting. “But philosophically, I’m opposed to affirmative action, which happens at admission and not after admission, because I think students should be admitted based on their merit, which includes academic standing, includes their personal narratives, but not based solely on the color of their skin.”

Wright then asked her to acknowledge that oftentimes Black students don’t have access to the same resources, such as SAT tutoring, and Senator Amma Sarkodee-Adoo later brought up the fact that immediately after the passage of Prop. 209, the number of Black students admitted to and enrolled at UC Berkeley dropped to alarming levels.

“The conversation that we’re having shouldn’t be about whether or not it’s an issue,” Senator Aaron Bryce Lee said before the senators voted on the resolution. “It should be about ‘what can we do more?’ This is clearly just a baby step.” Chow was the only senator to vote against the resolution. Wright’s other resolution regarding the USC report was passed immediately through the consent calendar, along with five other resolutions.

Also during the meeting, senators unanimously passed a resolution demanding the campus to be flexible and provide accommodations for students during the week of final exams as it will take place during the month of Ramadan. Senator Imran Khan, the resolution’s primary sponsor, said evening exams in particular are scheduled for the time when a person is supposed to break their fast, and taking an exam after fasting for a whole day causes “undue stress” for the student.

Khan added that he has been working on this since the summer and has heard of no verbal commitment or any action taken by a member of campus administration.

“Thank you all for passing the bill through,” Khan said during his senator announcements at the end of the meeting. “It means a lot, and I’m sure that a lot of students will benefit. You don’t know how much it means. If we pull this off, that will be the best thing ever.”

Anjali Shrivastava is the lead student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anjalii_shrivas.