ASUC opposes campus’s new nonpayment policy at meeting

Mitzi Perez/Senior Staff

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The ASUC Inter-Semester Committee unanimously passed four bills at its final meeting, including one declaring the ASUC’s opposition to the campus’s new cancel for nonpayment policy.

That policy — announced in a campuswide email July 18 — stated that undergraduate students must pay 20 percent of their tuition by Aug. 19 or have their enrolled courses dropped. The bill opposing the policy was critical of campus, citing in particular its lack of communication with students in creating the policy, along with what the bill deemed its insufficient analysis of the policy’s impact.

ASUC senator-elect Chris Yamas, the bill’s primary sponsor, called for campus administration to reevaluate the policy in light of its potential negative consequences, especially for low-income students.

“I represent transfer students who are disproportionately affected by this policy, as many of us are low-income students, myself included,” Yamas said in an email. “I personally know many students … at risk of not being able to attend classes this semester or potentially facing eviction by having to choose between paying rent or 20 percent of tuition.”

In a document written in response to the ASUC bill, UC Berkeley’s Division of Student Affairs attempted to clarify the specific ways in which the policy will affect students. According to the response, students receiving financial aid will have the 20 percent minimum covered by the aid, while those with extenuating circumstances — as determined by staff — can have their classes placed under a hold to keep their enrollment status.

“We would like to clear up some student misconceptions regarding the (policy), explain what’s changed for students, and highlight how students who may be at risk for cancellation can seek support,” said Student Affairs Communications Manager Adam Ratliff in an email.

Another one of the bills passed by the committee and sponsored by Yamas endorsed a city ballot measure to increase “protections and relocation assistance” for tenants evicted by owner move-in, which, according to Berkeley’s Rent Stabilization Board website, is when the owner of a building evicts its current tenants in order to move in a member of their immediate family.

“These are issues that affect the student population,” Yamas said in an email. “We are tenants and we are voters in the city of Berkeley.”

A third resolution — sponsored by senator-elect Zaynab AbdulQadir — endorsed an environmental equity bill introduced in the California State Assembly that would provide aid for low-income communities impacted by pollution from refineries such as the Chevron plant in Richmond. AbdulQadir said in an email that such “environmental racism” typically disproportionately affects people of color.

The final bill, sponsored by ASUC President Will Morrow, appointed ASUC Student Union Business and Finance Manager Shanice Jackson as the primary contact for ASUC bank accounts.

Contact Vera Esail at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @vesaildc.