ASUC Senate discusses student health, well-being at meeting

Audrey McNamara/Senior Staff

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At this week’s general meeting, the ASUC Senate introduced multiple bills related to student safety and wellness.

Wednesday’s new resolutions marked a total of seven bills in the past three weeks focused on student safety and wellness. They included a bill that would create a commission on mental health and another to increase protection related to on-campus political demonstrations.

One resolution, SR 25, charters the already existing Mental Health Coalition as an ASUC commission, giving it more funding and more clout in the eyes of administrators with whom it confers, according to the coalition’s External Director Anisha Makhija.

The Mental Health Coalition, a conglomeration of student clubs, is currently the main liaison between students and campus health workers, resident advisers, administration and other faculty.

“They don’t have access to ASUC resources like funding (or) room reservations or the legitimacy that can come from making a statement that says they’re speaking on behalf of the ASUC,” said Academic Affairs Vice President Frances McGinley.

Another proposed resolution, SB 26, would mandate that student political organizations alert the ASUC’s Office of the Executive Vice President at least 24 hours before “all planned on-campus gatherings, meetings and demonstrations” until Nov. 11 with an option for extension.

The resolution then said any organization that does not alert the EVP for a demonstration that ultimately requires the intervention of UCPD would face a 10 percent decrease in ASUC funding for the next academic year.

According to the language of the resolution, which was sponsored by Senator Miranda Hernandez, the measure is a direct response to an incident of alleged theft and violence against Berkeley College Republicans last month as a separate effort by non-students to build a mock wall on Sather Lane.

“If the student government can know about that or at least be aware about that, then I think it’s a good idea,” said Josh Woznica, president of the Jewish Student Union. “If a student group is doing something … the idea is that they want other people to know about it.”

While still in the early stages, Senator Ian Bullitt said the resolution has “good intent” but the current language is too strict.

“We can … tell students to avoid that area,” Bullitt said. “But I don’t think they should be mandated to report to the ASUC 24 hours in advance.”

Hernandez said the resolution is in its beginning stages and will be subject to editing in the University and External Affairs Committee before being heard for approval at a future senate meeting.

Along with the introduction to these new bills, the senate passed SR 22, which concerns the creation of an ASUC Intimate Partner Violence Commission, in addition to all other resolutions that were up for approval.

Contact Sakura Cannestra at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SakuCannestra.