ASUC Senate passes resolutions to encourage voter participation, allocate space to campus programs

Suyang Lu/Staff

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Two resolutions — one urging UC Berkeley to create an undergraduate voting holiday and another advocating for greater space allocation to the Educational Opportunity and Undocumented Students programs — passed through the ASUC Senate without debate at its meeting Wednesday.

CalSERVE Senator Wes Adrianson drafted SR-29 to support a voting holiday after working with Cal Berkeley Democrats on last year’s voter registration drive. According to the resolution, the November 2014 election only drew 14 percent of the residents of District 7, the student-majority district concentrated on the south side of campus that was recently established in response to a student-led campaign.

The resolution calls for the creation of an undergraduate voting holiday that, while not canceling classes completely, would prohibit campus professors and instructors from taking attendance, giving exams or introducing new material on the day of a general or midterm election.

According to Adrianson, he received feedback from students in conversation that academic commitments were the largest barriers to reaching the polls. He added that learning is just as much about “experiential engagement” — which includes political involvement — as it is about the classroom.

“It’s important that students are engaging in the political process, especially since these are our country’s next leaders,” Adrianson said.

Adrianson said it would be a “dream” for the campus to cancel all classes on election days, but considers the provisions set forth in the resolution more realistic at the moment because the academic calendar is set far in advance.

SR-30, drafted by Student Action Senator Andre Luu, urges the campus to allocate three additional office spaces to the Centers for Educational Equity and Excellence, which develop programs and services for underserved students — particularly the Educational Opportunity Program and the Undocumented Students Program.

The proposed new office spaces would allow the Educational Opportunity Program to hire an additional academic counselor and provide offices for peer counselors already working in both programs and for the current Undocumented Students Program director.

The resolution passed unanimously through both the University and External Affairs Committee and the senate without significant amendments, which Luu says will allow him to approach campus administrators with his space requests.

“This bill is extremely important because it allows us as the ASUC to be unified in advocating for two programs that serve so many students yet are still often overlooked,” he said.

Ariel Hayat is the lead student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ArielHayat.