ASUC senators express concerns about Richmond Bay campus, talk addressing anti-Semitism

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The ASUC Senate discussed concerns about the proposed development of a Berkeley Global Campus at Richmond Bay and took steps to address anti-Semitism on campus at a meeting Wednesday night.

After the chancellor’s chief of staff, Nils Gilman, made a guest presentation about the development of the Berkeley Global Campus, a proposed center for international collaborative research, senators expressed concerns about whether the development was in the best interests of Richmond residents.

“It was alarming to me how insensitive the chancellor’s office was in terms of the projects’ negative effects, normalizing the potential displacement of Richmond residents,” said ASUC Senator Austin Pritzkat.

According to Todd Stenhouse, spokesperson for the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, members of a Richmond community coalition have said they want reassurance that if there is development, they will not be priced out of their homes. They also requested access to living-wage jobs and the establishment of career pathways for Richmond youth.

The groups involved advocated for a community benefits agreement that would secure their demands.

Pritzkat said that despite being invited, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks has not attended a senate meeting to answer questions about the development of the Richmond Bay campus and has not explicitly shown public support for a community benefits agreement.

“Student leaders have not been sought out as legitimate stakeholders and have not been given a seat at the table in this discussion,” Pritzkat said.

In response to questions regarding student involvement in the development of the campus, UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof said that because the planning process is in its beginning phases, there has not been a great deal to consult with students about — although numerous efforts have still been made to do so. He added, however, that the chancellor’s office plans to get more students involved, with another student forum to be held in upcoming weeks.

Stenhouse said a crucial problem in negotiations is the extensive discussion surrounding a community benefits agreement but very little action.

“At a certain point you have to stop talking, put pen to paper and make agreements to a community that has so much at stake,” Stenhouse said. “It is time to make the commitment of a solid, binding agreement.”

According to Mogulof, though, the campus is in ongoing engagement with the Richmond community.

Besides discussing the development, the senate appointed ASUC senators Ori Herschmann and Haley Broder to a committee to combat anti-Semitism created by the senate in February. In addition to the two senators, other voting members will be the ASUC president, the Jewish Student Union president, a faculty member and a student member.

According to Herschmann, the group will try to set standards for what is acceptable expression and what could be perceived as anti-Semitic.

“This committee has nothing to do with Israel,” Herschmann said. “This committee is about the right for Jewish students to walk on this campus and feel safe.”

Contact Kate Wolffe at [email protected].