ASUC Senate reintroduces resolution that would aim to increase BART affordability for students

Phillip Downey/Senior Staff

After a lengthy discussion Wednesday night, the ASUC Senate reintroduced a resolution that would establish a working group to make public transportation more accessible to students.

If passed, SR 41 would establish a working group composed of students charged with the goal of making BART more affordable for students. The senate passed the original resolution, then numbered SR 12, through a split vote of 10-9 in October.

Three days later, however, ASUC President Yordanos Dejen, concerned that graduate and professional student representation in the working group would be lacking, sent SR 12 back to the ASUC Senate floor for consideration.

“While the spirit (of the resolution) is well intended, the functionality of the working group is not understood,” said ASUC Executive Vice President Lavanya Jawaharlal, noting that there were only minor changes made to the new resolution.

Last semester, Senator Andre Luu, the primary sponsor of SR 12, moved to postpone the resolution indefinitely in order to give him and ASUC External Affairs Vice President Marium Navid’s office more time to refine the resolution. This week, he reintroduced a new bill — SR 41 — with the same goal.

At yesterday’s meeting, however, Jawaharlal said SR 41 was substantially the same as the previous resolution. According to ASUC Attorney General Alek Klimek, because senate rules disallow the reintroduction of a previously defeated bill, the senate must temporarily waive that rule through a two-thirds majority vote.

The waiving motion at first failed, but then Luu argued that the new, amended version of SR 41 was significantly different from the original SR 12.

According to Luu, the biggest amendments made to the resolution are the composition of the working group. In the original resolution, a senator would serve as the chair of the group, but after amendments, Navid’s office would appoint the chair of the group. Furthermore, when once the group included nonstudent voting members such as district council members from the City of Berkeley, voting members are now all undergraduate and graduate students.

“I was disappointed in the other senators who, although they always have a right to disagree about bills being presented, did not offer any concrete concerns or specifications,” Luu said. “Rather, they were silent on the senate floor and still voted against the renewal.”

After discussion, ASUC Senator Sina Rashidi moved to appeal Jawaharlal’s previous ruling that the two bills were similar. The motion was passed by a majority vote and the resolution moved to new business.

“To be quite honest, I don’t understand the reasoning for the votes yesterday,” Rashidi said in an email.

SR 41 will be discussed as new business by the External Affairs Committee at their meeting Monday night.

Jessie Qian covers student government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @jessieq96.

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