3 UC Berkeley students sworn onto city commissions

Ka Yi Chau and Tom Steel/Courtesy

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The city of Berkeley appointed three UC Berkeley students to city commissions Monday through a student empowerment campaign between UC Berkeley student groups and Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

Campus junior Sahana Matthews, senior Anthony Carrasco and junior Celine Tseng were sworn in at the city clerk’s office as commissioners of the Police Review Commission; Youth Commission and Children; and Youth and Recreation Commission, respectively. According to Worthington, each appointment was part of an effort to increase age diversity in local government.

“I think this is the best opportunity in 30 years to actually get students a fair share of the seats at the table,” Worthington said. “I think students should be on every single commission in the entire city.”

According to Data USA, a visualized database of public U.S. government data, college-age residents from ages 18 to 24 made up about a quarter of Berkeley’s population in 2015. This includes students from community college, state college, the Pacific School of Religion, Zaytuna College and UC Berkeley, according to Worthington. Worthington said this means students should hold two seats on each commission in Berkeley.

Student commissioners often have a dramatic impact on city policies, and it is important for their point of view to be heard, Worthington said. He cited Mayor Jesse Arreguín, California State Assembly District 15 candidate Andy Katz and transgender Rabbi Reuben Zellman as three previous student commissioners who helped change certain Berkeley issues, such as housing and LGBTQ sensitivity training for police officers.

Matthews worked on turning a council item about improving police accountability into a ballot measure for Berkeley voters while she interned at Worthington’s office in spring 2017. The measure will be discussed at the Sept. 12 City Council meeting. She added that she hopes that joining PRC will help her continue working on reform and gain more insight on how the commission works.

Carrasco helped to propose the Housing Security Referendum when he was an ASUC senator last spring. He said he would like to continue addressing housing for homeless students on the Youth Commission.

“This is the first time I really have a direct engagement with the public,” Tseng said. “As commissioner, there is more of a direct engagement with the public as all commission meetings are public. … I like that interaction.”

Gibson Chu is the lead city government reporter. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @thegibsonchu.