The UC Berkeley Graduate Assembly voted to approve an amended version of its operating budget for the 2017-18 academic year at its Thursday meeting.
Highlights of the budget included a more than 20 percent increase in student group funding and the potential addition of a development director position for facilitating Graduate Assembly fundraising. Despite total spending increasing to more than $600,000 — a sharp increase compared to those of previous years — the Graduate Assembly is projected to operate at a budget surplus for the first time since the 2012-13 academic year, as the result of an increase in student fee revenues.
Delegates also held a debate on the budget prior to passing it, requiring three time extensions and unanimously passed an amendment to increase the Business Office’s funding from $25,000 to $35,000.
The Assembly ended up voting in opposition to an amendment which would have defunded The Berkeley Graduate, a graduate student-focused publication.
Other topics of discussion included replacing the Environmental Sustainability Officer position with a multi-person project or work group and reallocating funds used to pay printing and beverage expenses for student organizations.
The meeting also included an appearance from UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, who spoke about protecting undocumented students’ data privacy and the campus community in general from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Within the next two weeks, the campus will distribute cards to all students and staff informing them of their legal protections in the event of an encounter with ICE agents.
Dirks said that if the Trump administration attempts to obtain data from UC Berkeley regarding its undocumented students, the campus has a plan to resist by making use of lawsuits and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, among other methods, to hold out for as long as possible.
Regarding next year’s upcoming administrative turnovers, Dirks said his replacement for campus chancellor will be named in the next month. He emphasized that both interim and permanent members of the administration were “working overtime” on “public access, freedom of speech, potential violence,” budget cuts and various other issues.
At the meeting, representatives of ASUC Senator Rosa Kwak gave a presentation on the upcoming 2017 Sexual Violence Conference. The presentation included an overview of the various planned workshops, including one on intimate partner violence under the Trump administration, one involving yoga and one on consent.
The representatives also distributed flyers to the Assembly, and when asked about the possibility of a space during the conference specifically for graduate students, the representatives welcomed the idea and encouraged anyone in the room interested in running such a workshop to apply before the March 18 deadline.