ASUC senators call first-ever summer senate meetings a success

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After the ASUC Senate convened its first meetings as the inter-semester committee this past summer, senators have heralded the experiment a success for student representation.

The committee resulted from the Constitutional Clarity and Consistency Amendment that passed this spring, aimed at increasing the transparency of ASUC documents and activities for students and other leaders. The summer committee — which is made up of three outgoing senators and four incoming senators — was also created to improve the “institutional memory” of the body between semesters, as well as smoother transitions for leadership, according to Senator Chris Yamas in an email.

“The inter-semester committee was overall a really important and effective addition to the ASUC, especially in enhancing the activity of student leaders over the summer,” said Rachel Schuster, the summer executive vice president designee, who led the body, in an email. “(It) acted as a space where student leaders were able to react to a range of incidents that required immediate attention.”

The most recognizable action taken by the inter-semester committee was a unanimously-passed bill voicing opposition to the Cancel for Non-Payment policy, which later led to an agreement between the campus and ASUC to push back the policy’s deadline 11 days, to Aug. 30. The bill, sponsored by Yamas, said that policies like CNP significantly affected lower-income students and called for greater communication between campus administration and ASUC.

“I think admin were really banking on no one being home over the summer to kick up a stir of any sort,” said Senator Anthony Carrasco in an email. “But the ASUC “Summer Senate” was here, and was able to quickly create and pass a scathing bill denouncing the ill conceived policy change.”

The committee also acted in response to the loss of two UC Berkeley students, Tarishi Jain and Nicolas Leslie, to terrorist attacks while abroad. Carrasco spearheaded several initiatives that advocated for hiring counselors specific to the needs of students in the South Asian, Southwest Asian and North African communities, and for the larger student body to lend support to those in the grieving process.

Additionally, the committee passed measures in support of several Berkeley city ballot initiatives for the fall. These included a proposed measure regarding “owner move-in” evictions and the creation of an “Independent Redistricting Commission” in Berkeley to increase student representation in city elections and City Council.

Moving forward, the inter-semester committee, as part of ASUC bylaws, will continue to meet every summer.

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