ASUC committee passes bills in support of increased faculty diversity, police accountability

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The ASUC’s Standing Committee on University and External Affairs discussed four proposed ASUC Senate bills at its Monday night meeting, ultimately moving two of them forward with unanimous votes.

Despite the absence of two members, the committee — which handles discussion of bills for the senate as well as issues that affect UC Berkeley students — passed SB 074, a bill in support of ensuring faculty diversity in tenure, and an amended version of SB 075, a bill in support of a UCPD accountability board. The former expresses the ASUC’s support for a more diverse faculty, and the latter asks the campus administration to create a board to oversee UCPD activity.

Two other bills that appeared on the agenda — SB 076, a bill regarding administrative reorganization of Residential and Student Service Programs, and SB 078, a bill in support of the Half of Us campaign — were tabled because of issues with the bills’ wording and lack of submitted language, respectively. They will be revisited at the committee’s next meeting April 6.

The main focus of the meeting was SB 074, sponsored by current CalSERVE senator and presidential candidate Yordanos Dejen, who has been working on the bill throughout her time as a senator. The bill targets gaps in the campus faculty’s diversity and serves as a mostly symbolic bill, according to Dejen.

She said a main goal of the bill is to get departments and department chairs interested in increasing diversity among faculty.

“(It is) strange and shocking to me that there (are) no black political science professors,” Dejen said. “I know they exist — they just aren’t here”.

Though Student Action Senator Ori Herschmann said in the meeting that he supported the bill and the sentiment behind it, he expressed fear that the lack of action outlined in the bill would lead to the bill’s passage being overlooked.

In response to Herschmann, Dejen said the bill was still a work in progress and that proposed plans for action include creating within each department a position accountable for mediating problems between students and faculty members. Dejen also emphasized a plan to offer a program to students interested in increasing diversity.

The other bill passed Monday, SB 075, will call on campus leadership to create a UCPD accountability board, similar to the one developed by UC Davis in 2014.

According to the bill, the legislation aims to support the creation of a body tasked with community oversight of UCPD in response to what the bill called a “long history of police brutality by UCPD against students.”

Unless the passed bills are “pulled,” or taken out for further examination during Wednesday’s senate meeting, they will be put into senate records, and any actions outlined in the bill will be taken.

Contact Kate Wolffe at [email protected].