As ASUC elections draw near, students will not only be voting for candidates running for ASUC, but they will also have the opportunity to vote on two referendums: the Enrollment Clarification Act and the Student Transformation through Academic Recruitment and Retention Referendum, or STARR.
The two referendums, while tackling different issues, also come with different price tags — the STARR referendum would raise the tuition fee to fund the bridges Multicultural Resource Center from $3 per semester to $26.50 for undergraduate students in fall and spring, and the Enrollment Clarification Act is free. UC Berkeley’s campus fees currently stand at $693.75 for the 2017-18 academic year.
The STARR referendum would increase financial support to the seven recruitment and retention centers under the bridges Multicultural Resource Center, according to Rizza Estacio, ASUC senator and co-author of the referendum.
“This referendum will be directly serving underrepresented students and increasing the yield of POC students and nontraditional students to this university,” said Kimberly Chua, one of the referendum’s campaign managers.
STARR would double the amount of money dedicated to outreach and recruitment efforts, which include support for students looking to apply to UC Berkeley, and quadruple the budget for retention efforts to help underrepresented students already at UC Berkeley find success.
A similar referendum to STARR, called Social Justice, was passed at UCLA in May 2016, leading to a higher level of retention and recruitment of underrepresented students, according to both Chua and Estacio.
As tuition costs increase, as they did when the UC Board of Regents recently voted to increase out-of-state tuition, Estacio said she believes something must be done to make UC Berkeley accessible for all students.
“With the tuition increases in recent years that make it even harder for (people of color) to attend Berkeley, it’s time for us to stand up and make a change,” Estacio said.
Estacio and Chua are also looking beyond the campus level. They hope this referendum can be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back” when it comes to Proposition 209 — an amendment to the California Constitution that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex or ethnicity — and prompt conversations among campus administrators and the state.
In the event that Prop. 209 is actually repealed, Estacio said she and Chua will “sunset” the referendum, amending the language to include a date on which the policy would end.
The impetus for the Enrollment Clarification Act stems from confusion regarding the terms “enrolled,” “registered” and “degree-seeking” in ASUC and campus policy, according to ASUC Senator and referendum co-sponsor Madison Miller.
Miller added that unlike other referendums, such as STARR, the Enrollment Clarification Act is costless and will only “change a few words” in the ASUC Constitution.
Currently, the ASUC Constitution contains language that prohibits certain students — who are not technically “registered” because of UC Berkeley’s Cancel for Non-Payment, or CNP, policy — from gaining membership to the ASUC, even if these students are taking courses and are functionally UC Berkeley students. This referendum would make ASUC membership available to any student enrolled in at least one course and seeking a degree from UC Berkeley.
“Voting yes on this proposed referendum … eliminates any gray area, and will allow any enrolled student to hold office and participate, not just those who are registered and enrolled by university standards,” Miller said in an email.