ASUC submits plans to city for student supermajority district

Safeena Mecklai/Courtesy

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The ASUC submitted proposed boundaries for a new student supermajority district to the city of Berkeley Wednesday.

The plans propose a student district encompassing not only the entire UC Berkeley campus but also popular student cooperatives, apartments and fraternity and sorority houses.

“We tried to pack as many substudent groups into the district as possible, including the Greek organizations, campus dorms and off-campus housing,” said Noah Efron, the ASUC’s redistricting director.

A student has not been elected to the City Council since Nancy Skinner was a member of it from 1984 to 1992.

“Our goal is not to exactly have a student on the City Council but an elected official who responds to student issues,” Efron said. “Also, graduate students who stay here longer can feasibly serve on the council for an entire term.”

This proposal is possible because Measure R, which passed last November, amended the existing city charter to eliminate the 1986 boundary lines and adjusted the district boundaries to reflect the city’s updated population.

According to ASUC External Affairs Vice President Shahryar Abbasi, this district is overdue for the students who constitute 25 percent of the city’s population.

“Voters clearly understand the importance of students to the city and its economic development,” Abbasi said. ”Students have a voice on many of the issues that the city government must address, from lighting to affordable housing to safety to tenants’ rights.”

Some members of the city government said they are also in agreement on the importance of student representation in policy discussions.

“Students are vital to the city, as they are the economic drivers of today, the innovators and job creators of tomorrow,” said Mayor Tom Bates. “(Students) are instrumental to the city’s economic and cultural life.”

Councilmember Jesse Arreguin felt similarly, emphasizing the council’s need for a younger perspective.

“I’m the only person under 50 on the council,” Arreguin said. “We absolutely need students, who have traditionally been at the forefront of pushing changes to the city government, to bring unique, innovative ideas.”

Arreguin also expressed support for the ASUC’s planned district boundaries.

“I think it’s a very smart map — it doesn’t divide any student neighborhoods and respects the existing district boundaries that have been there for 25 years,” he said.

The City Council is not required to select any single proposal but may create a hybrid version that combines multiple plans. The proposals will then be presented to the council for discussion at two public hearings, currently set for May 7 and July 2.

Contact Jason Liu at [email protected].