Contrary to the ASUC Senate’s apparent belief, not everyone on campus supports Proposition 30.
At a largely liberal institution like UC Berkeley, it’s easy to assume that the student body would be in favor of raising taxes to stave off hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to California’s public universities. But it is the duty of our student representatives to be thorough and consider all points of view before throwing their weight behind a political issue.
That didn’t happen last Wednesday, when the senate voted unanimously to endorse Prop. 30. Several groups were present to support the senate’s endorsement, but no opposition groups were at the meeting. The senate should have known that at the very least, members of the Berkeley College Republicans — a large and active student group — would be against Prop. 30. Senators failed to do their due diligence and make sure an opposing argument was heard.
Specific individuals or groups aren’t usually invited to speak about regular business at senate meetings, though of course anyone can attend since the meetings are public. However, an endorsement about such a political issue like Prop. 30 should have been addressed at another meeting through a special order, when senators could hear why some students don’t support this initiative.
Whether intended or not, the senate is sending the message that UC Berkeley’s undergraduate student body supports the proposition, but that is not known since the senate did not take the time to properly survey students. When senators make an endorsement like this, they can’t be voting simply on their own personal preferences or those of the communities they associate with on campus — senators should be mindful of the diverse political views of all their constituents. Even if their views are unchanged by the opposition’s arguments, taking the time to include them would at least demonstrate that other voices have been heard.
This isn’t the first time the senate has been reckless with regard to different opinions on campus, either. Last year, the infamous “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” hosted by the campus Republican group was prompted at least in part by the student government’s disregard of varying student opinions when it supported a controversial state bill. Though that was a different senate class, the body could have and should have learned its lesson then. Students will never have complete and total faith in the ASUC if they don’t believe their student government reflects their beliefs or that it is at least trying to be as inclusive as possible.
In the future, the senate must take the time to make sure every perspective is present. If no one from an opposing opinion wants to speak, then perhaps the senate is not creating a space where people feel their voices can be heard. But if all views are included in the discussion, the senate will know it is making an informed decision. Students will, too.