Now-full ASUC executive board cooperates to achieve goals

Ariel D. Hayat/Staff

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Mon-Shane Chou’s appointment as ASUC academic affairs vice president last week marked the first time the ASUC executive board has been full after going more than a month without an AAVP.

Many executives have noted the cohesion within the now-complete executive board. Since taking office, Chou has started work on issues that align with other executive offices’ aims, including mental health and the distribution of grants and scholarships.

In addition to working within the AAVP’s office, Chou will work with campus administration and the ASUC offices of the president, executive vice president, external affairs vice president and student advocate.

“The executive offices are really excited to settle all the ambiguity with administrators over the AAVP’s office and really start working,” Chou said in an email.

AAVP Chief of Staff Denim Ohmit assumed many of the role’s responsibilities after Jeanette Corona resigned in August. The AAVP deals primarily with issues regarding academic experience and works with the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate. Although executives are all given distinct powers by the ASUC’s governing documents, many projects span multiple offices.

“We’ve already done a pretty good job of working together and staying in communication, so if we can keep that up, that’ll be a really good victory that I haven’t seen in a lot of past groups,” said EAVP Caitlin Quinn. “We need to develop more of an identity for the ASUC that is unified, so people don’t feel like they’re just a part of one office.”

Since Chou’s appointment, she has met with ASUC President Pavan Upadhyayula to talk about an initiative from campus administration that aims to improve the undergraduate experience at UC Berkeley. Upadhyayula’s and Chou’s respective offices are working to increase student involvement in the initiative.

EVP Justin Kong said his office worked closely with the office of the AAVP, even when the executive position was vacant. The offices of the EVP and the AAVP submitted proposals Monday to the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Student Services and Fees, which oversees the allocation of money collected from students.

Their proposals addressed issues that concern both offices, such as mental health resources, wellness and student support.

“We have a very unique stage in which the executive offices are willing to work together to achieve our overall goals,” Kong said. “We all have constitutionally separated powers, but they really complement each other in a way that will benefit students if we put them together like the pieces of a puzzle.”

According to Quinn, there are not many opportunities for the EAVP’s office to work directly with the AAVP’s office. The EAVP can, however, help connect Chou and her staff with their counterparts at other UC campuses, and the AAVP’s office can assist other executive offices with grants.

The AAVP’s office indirectly works with the student advocate’s office to determine how campus academic regulations are affecting students.

Ohmit said that since Chou has taken office, there has been a minimal learning curve.

“It’s important that students know that although the AAVP office is getting a late start in terms of having an executive, we’re working as efficiently as possible to make up as much ground as we can,” Ohmit said. “I’m proud of how well the ASUC has been able to function throughout this process — it speaks to the strength of the executive board.”

Michelle Pitcher covers student governmentContact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @michellepitcher.