ASUC Senate holds first meeting of the semester

At the first ASUC Senate meeting of the spring semester Wednesday night, senators announced the development of a new smartphone application for UC Berkeley students and the renaming of the board that oversees student government commercial activities.

After the senate moved to rename the ASUC Store Operations Board as the Commercial and Student Services Board, Student Action Senator Connor Landgraf announced that he has developed a new smartphone application for students.

Student Action Senator Safeena Mecklai said the board felt that the current name was not very inclusive, and the acronym “SOB” was not ideal.

A full report on the board’s current activity will be presented at the next senate meeting, according to ASUC President Vishalli Loomba.

In May 2009, the board forgave The Daily Californian a portion of its rent for the office it leases. As a result of that agreement, a nonpolitical student member of the board, currently Hedy Chen, sits on the Daily Cal’s Board of Operations, which has no control over the paper’s editorial content.

Landgraf’s smartphone application — which the senate has not yet supported through a bill — monitors the number of people in each campus library and gym and notifies students of ASUC and campus events, Landgraf said.

The project’s one-year development license from iTunes has cost Landgraf a total of $99 in personal expenses. He said he hopes to be reimbursed by the Senate Only fund, a fund that typically finances senate events and retreats.

Landgraf plans to publicly release the application — which will be free for students to download — in late February.

He said if the senate decides not to approve the project, the smartphone application would not be produced, despite the already-purchased development license.

Other applications specific to the campus have been successfully launched in the past few years, according to campus Director of Telecommunications Michael Green.

The UC Berkeley Mobile — launched by the campus on the iTunes application store — overlaps with several features that Landgraf’s application will include. The campus application features course and campus maps, tours, events, news and library tools and links to varsity athletics.

Another application — designed to give students an easy access to the AirBears login page — currently has gotten between 100 and 500 downloads in the Android Market since it was released in December 2008.

An application for the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business also has between 100 and 500 downloads in the Android Market.

Landgraf wants to surpass the number of downloads the other applications have received, hoping that thousands of students will use his product.

“It seems like students really want this application,” he said.

Chloe Hunt covers student government.