ASUC Senate convenes for 1st inter-semester committee

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The ASUC Senate held its first ever inter-semester committee meeting Thursday to discuss the permanent appointment of a chief legal officer and to debate whether to support a potential study by the city of Berkeley on the effects of banning single-use water bottles.

According to CalSERVE Senator Chris Yamas, the committee was formed because of the passage in this year’s campus election of the Constitutional Clarity and Consistency Amendment. The committee will discuss issues that are of particular relevance in the summer.

“It is intended to allow the ASUC to have greater institutional memory year-to-year, smoother transitions, and to ensure we can conduct business over the summer,” Yamas said in an email.

The committee is made up of seven senators, including three outgoing senators and four incoming senators belonging to the SQUELCH!, CalSERVE and Student Action parties. SQUELCH! Senator Anthony Carrasco said the committee is headed by the ASUC executive vice president but added that because of scheduling conflicts, current EVP Alicia Lau’s chief of staff Rachel Schuster was appointed EVP-designee.

According to interim ASUC Chief Legal Officer Alek Klimek, the committee was also created to address the the senate’s inability to reach quorum over the summer, as well as the increased accountability for ASUC officers.

“In the past, there has been no accountability mechanism and officers have failed to fulfill their duties between semesters,” Klimek said in an email. “Some have just entirely left the country and not done anything until September.”

The committee also aims to represent students during summer and winter breaks, serving as their voice while they are away.

“In the past, the administration finds it easier to make rules without students,” Carrasco said. “(The committee) is constructed to allow student government to have representatives on campus even when the students are not on campus.”

The issues discussed last night were the five bills proposed by Yamas — all topics that would be discussed in the next Berkeley City Council meeting — along with the recent resignation of Chief Legal Officer Megan Turrill.

On the issue of the vacant position, Schuster suggested that it be filled when the senate reconvenes in the fall, and the decision will be made at the next committee meeting.

Of the five issues, the most contentious bill was the one concerning the ASUC supporting the potential study of a plastic water bottle ban. Committee members such as senator-elect Miranda Hernandez expressed concern over how a ban would affect lower income students, though she ultimately voted for the bill.

All bills were passed unanimously by the senators present in person and through teleconference. The committee will meet three more times this summer, with the next meeting June 30.

Contact Vera Esail at [email protected].