Berkeley City Council met Monday evening in the North Berkeley Senior Center to present and discuss potential redistricting plans, including the establishment of a student supermajority district.
Six groups presented the council with seven different plans for redistricting, one of which was made by the Berkeley Student District Campaign in an attempt to create a student supermajority district. UC Berkeley junior and current redistricting director Noah Efron, senior Michael Manset and junior and ASUC External Affairs Vice President-elect Safeena Mecklai all presented for the BSDC.
Representatives of the BSDC said in the meeting that because the student community is currently divided into four districts, it is difficult for students to have their voices heard on the council. A student supermajority district would allow students to be represented on City Council.
“Twenty-five percent of Berkeley residents are students and they are not represented,” Manset said during his presentation. “By creating a student district, students will have an institutionalized seat on the council to represent them. Our plan has District 7 remain the student district but increase in size so that 86 percent of students live in the district.”
Mecklai said that if having a student council member is not possible, the council member elected should understand student issues and be in tune with issues in student life.
“If the student community is condensed to one district, students will have more of a voice on the council,” Efron said. “The student community should be seen as a community of interest because while crime has decreased in other districts, in the student community crime has remained the same.
UC Berkeley alumnus Alfred Twu also submitted a redistricting plan and said that a student district should be made so that students could have a voice on the council. However, Sherry Smith, president of the League of Women Voters of Berkeley, Albany and Emeryville, said that other communities and neighborhoods should also be considered when redistricting rather than just the student community.
“I can see why students would want a student district because then they would have an impact on the council and the council member elected by them would be responsive to their needs,” Smith said. “However, there are other communities of interest, such as the West Berkeley neighborhood, that should be considered. So what the council must do is weigh all the submitted plans out and possibly merge some together to achieve what is best for the city of Berkeley.”
Berkeley City Council will meet again on May 7 to vote on a redistricting plan and will begin to modify and change the plan once it is chosen.