ASUC Senate to consider bill supporting Occupy Cal movement

The ASUC Senate will meet Wednesday night to consider a bill that supports the Occupy Cal movement, which includes a Nov. 9 walkout and noontime rally on Sproul Plaza, and that provides financial support for buses to transport students to the upcoming UC Board of Regents meeting at UC San Francisco.

The bill, passed by both the external and finance committees Monday night, would provide support for the protest through newspaper advertisements and through “standing in solidarity with students who choose to walk out on Nov. 9,” according to the bill. The goal of the Occupy Cal movement is to raise awareness of a potential 81 percent tuition increase over the next four years, according to Ricardo Gomez, a UC Berkeley senior and member of the Public Education Coalition, one of the groups sponsoring the event.

The bill would allocate $892 from the ASUC Senate Only fund — supplemented by a $500 grant from the Academic Opportunity Fund — towards the rental of two buses that will transport a total of 100 students to the regents’ meeting Nov. 16 for public comment.

According to CalSERVE Senator Andrew Albright, who co-authored the bill with Cooperative Movement Senator Elliot Goldstein, the Senate Only fund, which funds senate events and retreats, is separate from the ASUC Contingency fund, which funds student groups and organizations.

UC Student Regent-designate Jonathan Stein, who will begin his term as Student Regent in July 2012, said that there are usually between 10 and 25 students who attend each regents’ meeting — some who participate in public comment and some who observe.

“I think it’s good to have lots and lots of students give public comment, to give voice to their frustrations and their fears and their opinions,” he said in an email. “I know that regents sometimes discuss among themselves what’s been said in public comment. Now really is the time to be heard.”

UC Student Regent Alfredo Mireles, Jr. said that although the regents will not discuss the possible tuition increase at November’s meeting — this topic will be discussed at the March meeting — the students’ presence will be effective nonetheless.

“By getting out in front of the issue and speaking at the regents meeting before the one where the decision will actually be made, I think it will be more effective,” he said.

If the senate passes the bill at its Wednesday meeting, Albright said that the buses would be available for all UC Berkeley students free of charge.