The ASUC is a democratically elected body that is responsible first and foremost to the students who form its electorate at UC Berkeley. When significant changes are made to the ASUC, students should be able to expect that they will be informed.
Unfortunately, the majority of the student body may have been surprised by a major change to their student government implemented in such a way that avoided public scrutiny.
On May 3, the final decision was made to move the ASUC Auxiliary from the Office of Administration and Finance to the Division of Student Affairs. We question why the administration and our own elected ASUC officials did not do more to make the change known to students, especially considering the decision was made before the semester’s end while students were still on campus.
Even though the final decision took a month to enter the public spotlight, questions still remain unanswered as to the reasoning behind the change. Making such a shift under the cover of summer does not breed confidence in the decision. We share Graduate Assembly President Miguel Daal’s sentiment that the advantages of the change have not been adequately explained to the student population.
What is even more alarming is that this change remained secretive despite its magnitude. Because the Auxiliary is the financial arm of the ASUC and stays somewhat detached from policy decisions, moving it to the more policy-oriented student affairs division raises concerns about the future autonomy of the ASUC. These concerns should at least be addressed more completely than they have been and brought under tougher scrutiny by the student body.
Going forward, Daal’s suggestions of a memorandum of understanding and list of benefits from the change would be a positive step towards better accountability. But these measures are palliative — students must demand more openness about the changes occurring at the Auxiliary.
The ASUC and administration should oblige such demands, as failure to do so risks appearing unaccountable to the students they serve.