If ASUC Senator Jorge Pacheco truly wanted to settle charges against President Connor Landgraf, he should have done it the right way. Attempting to thwart the democratic process instead and influence Landgraf’s decision on whether to veto the ASUC Senate’s controversial divestment bill was wildly inappropriate.
Elected representatives of the UC Berkeley student body like Pacheco and Landgraf have an obligation to be honest and transparent about their actions. This is especially paramount when it comes to controversial topics like the debate around SB 160, a bill the senate passed nearly two weeks ago that calls for divestment from companies associated with the Israeli military. Pacheco offered to drop completely unrelated charges against Landgraf’s executive order putting the health and wellness referendum on the ballot if Landgraf did not veto the bill. Though he indicated in his handwritten note to Landgraf that his offer should not be the deciding factor, its very existence calls his motives into question.
Pacheco somehow needs to be held accountable for his actions. Landgraf made the right call by being forthcoming to the ASUC attorney general about what happened; Pacheco should face charges if at all possible. If no grounds exist to charge Pacheco for his ethical breach, then the ASUC Senate must at the very least take steps to prohibit such actions from recurring in the future.
On a broader level, Pacheco’s note is one of several indicators of the extent to which divestment has negatively impacted the campus. Considering that senators have received threatening messages and the physical assault that occurred on campus before the vote, the ASUC and the campus administration should intervene. Students must feel safe on campus, even after expressing controversial political beliefs, and they must be able to have faith that the ASUC is operating with integrity and accountability.
ASUC President-elect DeeJay Pepito would do well to focus on improving campus climate as she begins her term. Though many students disagree about the necessity of divestment, all should be able to acknowledge that some of the reactions have reflected poorly on the UC Berkeley community. And as the assault and the general reaction to divestment show, the problem transcends the boundaries of the ASUC. All student groups need to be engaged in a meaningful way moving forward so that none feel UC Berkeley is not a safe or welcoming place for them.