Senate passes 4 referendums, P.E.O.P.L.E. Act

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The ASUC Senate passed nine resolutions at their weekly Wednesday meeting, including the Promoting Empowerment of Personnel Leadership & Excellence (P.E.O.P.L.E.) Act, and four referendums for the April election ballot.

The P.E.O.P.L.E. Act will restructure the internal organization of the ASUC, moving the position of the chief accountability officer into the office of a new position — the chief personnel officer, who would be charged with managing the human resources within the ASUC. The senate also passed four referendums: Housing Security, Life at UC Berkeley EXpansion, Community and Career Connections Initiative and Big C(ommunity).

According to the resolution of the P.E.O.P.L.E. Act, the ASUC lacks an organized human resources system. The resolution said the work of human resources is stretched between other offices, such as the executive vice president, chief communications officer and chief accountability officer. The resolution has been in the works since November of last year, and has undergone numerous edits in both the Governance and Internal Affairs Committee and the Finance Committee.

“I really want to see the HR of the ASUC get better at this because we really didn’t have anyone who was managing … the human resources of the ASUC,” said Senator Jenny Kim, who cosponsored the resolution.

While the senate passed three referendums — Housing Security, Life at UC Berkeley EXpansion and Community and Career Connections Initiative — with the consent calendar, the Big C Referendum resulted in an hour-long debate. Senator Alaa Aissi pulled the referendum onto the table during the meeting.

The referendum would add $29 per semester to each student’s tuition for a period of 10 years, and the funds would go toward expanding the services of the programs within the Centers for Educational Justice & Community Engagement, or EJCE.

Two of the managers of the referendum, campus junior transfer Ifechukwu Okeke and campus senior Axenya Kachen, came to the meeting earlier to explain that the funds from the referendum would be used to ensure the success of underrepresented students. The EJCE includes the Gender Equity Resource Center and Multicultural Student Development, or MSD.

“This university likes to talk about diversity and support but it’s also diversity and support in terms of funding and money that’s given towards students,” Okeke said at the meeting. “If marginalized and oppressed students are taken care of then it means that everyone else in society and the institution are (taken) care of too.”

This resolution was debated during the meeting because Aissi requested that an amendment be included in the resolution to urge EJCE to use a portion of the funds to create development offices for South Asian, Southwest Asian and North African students.

But some disagreed with the amendment because the resolution has already been reviewed by the UC Office of the President. According to Senator Monsoon Pabrai, including the amendment — a clause which has not been reviewed by UCOP — would jeopardize the referendum and open the possibility of it being rejected by UCOP, which would disqualify the referendum from being placed on the ballot at all.

The roll call vote to include the amendment failed, but the vote to accept the resolution without the amendment passed, so the referendum will be on the April election ballot. Aissi said in an email that she supported the resolution, but also explained that including the amendment would have improved the resolution’s inclusivity. She added that she will continue to work with the Asian Pacific American Student Development and move forward.

“My voice was not meant to delegitimize the efforts and the work of existing MSD centers on campus,” Aissi said in an email. “Rather, it was to further the agendas and address concrete suggestions for how the centers can be improved and more inclusive than they already are.”

Sakura Cannestra is the lead student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SakuCannestra.