After a long and contentious discussion Wednesday night, the ASUC Senate failed to pass a bill that would have supported a student-majority City Council district. The revised district the bill supported includes Northside student residences that are excluded in an alternative proposal.
The senate meeting, which continued past midnight, concluded with a vote of 11-9 against the bill, SB 3. Many senators cited concerns about the haste with which the map was drawn.
Student Action Senator Quinn Shen said he strongly felt the development of the redrawn map was a “rushed process” that needed more time for evaluation.
The new plan, the United Student District Amendment, was proposed to the City Council in July and would include the student residences that were excluded from the original redistricting proposal. SB 3 would have expressed formal support for the USDA map.
The senate’s failure to pass the bill reflects the ASUC’s decision to continue its support for the original plan, the Berkeley Student District Campaign. The map laid out in the BSDC plan, which the ASUC Office of the External Affairs Vice President has supported since 2011, does not include International House, Northside cooperatives and three campus residence halls.
The bill’s failure could be attributed to a number of factors. Some senators brought up concerns about whether proposing an entirely new map would hinder the progress of creating a student-majority district. Others noted redistricting is not just about the interests of students but also about what is best for residents.
“It’s important to recognize that this is also a city issue,” said Noah Efron, the ASUC redistricting director, who spoke in opposition to SB 3. “Therefore, it’s also important to consider what neighborhoods get split.”
Additionally, some senators expressed concerns about whether either map would fully represent the UC Berkeley student population. Approximately 86 percent of the student-majority district proposed by the BSDC plan would be students, while the district created by the USDA proposal would be 90.3 percent students.
Although the bill failed, many expressed a desire to continue fighting for the proposal.
“I truly cannot understand why anyone would not support including more students, especially students who have been marginalized in the last redistricting process and barely got into the district we’re in now,” said CalSERVE Senator Caitlin Quinn.
Other students echoed her disappointment.
“Tonight showed that students are conflicted on what exactly it means to have an inclusive student district,” said James Chang, vice president of external affairs for the Berkeley Student Cooperative and a co-author of the bill.
The senate spent a large part of the meeting making amendments to the bill in hopes of reaching an agreement. Even after hours of discussion and numerous comments from the public in support of SB 3, however, the bill failed to garner enough votes to pass.
CalSERVE Senator Briana Mullen said she was disappointed by how the senate handled discussion of the bill.
“I think the 20 of us should put forth the best public policy for students, and I don’t think that happened tonight,” Mullen said.
Jennie Yoon is the lead student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected].