Students at UC Berkeley share a passion and desire for advancing justice and making wrongs right. Issues like budget cuts often draw attention from the campus community, and the student government plays an important role in expanding support. But the ASUC Senate’s Feb. 7 bill — which reiterated support for affirmative action and funded transportation to San Francisco so students could demonstrate in opposition of Proposition 209 on Tuesday — was ideologically ineffective and financially irresponsible.
Chartering a bus to help students make it to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was not productive, amounting to a waste of the approximately $400 the senate set aside to do it. When the bill was passed, some senators emphasized a need for community outreach and publicity, but the fact that only three students took the bus out of Berkeley makes it clear that such efforts fell short.
Expecting politicians to appease everyone is unreasonable — that is not how democratic political processes are supposed to work — but they should be expected to spend money in a responsible way. Yes, our campus senators represent the communities that helped elect them, but must nonetheless strive to serve the entire student body. Throwing away cash does not do that — nor does it even enhance the impact of the senate’s support for affirmative action.
Moreover, many UC Berkeley students who wanted to protest in San Francisco were either oblivious to the fact that the ASUC had paid for transportation or, for those that did know, chose to take BART instead. This only reinforces how unnecessary the senate’s decision to pass the bill was. Especially considering the controversy our campus experienced last semester when the Berkeley College Republicans staged a bake sale satirizing affirmative action, the senate’s desire to put so much effort behind opposing Prop. 209 seems misplaced.
The ASUC Senate cannot be told to stop drafting and passing bills in support of the various causes it decides to champion. However, it should strive to avoid committing funds that cannot be put to effective student use.