Along with a new batch of ASUC executives and senators, students learned both referendums on the ballot passed during Friday’s tabulations ceremony; as a result, the ASUC Constitution will be revised, and another student fee will be tacked on for the upcoming year.
The Student Transformation through Academic Recruitment and Retention, or STARR, referendum passed with 5,216 votes. This referendum raises the student fee funding the bridges Multicultural Resource Center from $3 to $26.50 per semester for undergraduate students.
STARR will double the budget for outreach and recruitment efforts and quadruple the funds for retention efforts for bridges, which will help underrepresented students find success while at UC Berkeley. These recruitment and retention efforts will include mentorship programs, peer counseling services and tutoring services.
“As someone who’s benefited from the work of bridges, I’m so excited to see a campus that funds multicultural recruitment and retention work,” current ASUC President Zaynab AbdulQadir-Morris said. “It’s revolutionary that we decided to fund it, and the university still hasn’t made any efforts to support that work.”
Rizza Estacio, ASUC senator and co-author of the referendum, added that she and referendum campaign manager Kimberly Chua will amend the referendum to include a date on which the policy will end if Proposition 209 — an amendment to the California Constitution prohibiting state institutions from considering race, sex or ethnicity in employment and education — is repealed.
Nikhil Harish, a Student Action senator who won a seat Friday, said he voted “yes” on both referendums.
“For the STARR referendum, honestly … we see lack of diversity every day,” Harish said. “Those programs are doing the work; we need to fund them. This was really important.”
The Enrollment Clarification Act, an entirely free referendum, swept up 7,449 votes.
The language of the ASUC Constitution currently uses the words “registered” and “enrolled” interchangeably, prohibiting ASUC membership to students who are taking classes but may not be technically “registered” because of UC Berkeley’s Cancel for Non-Payment policy.
The act will clarify language within the ASUC Constitution so that membership in the ASUC only requires students to be enrolled in at least one course and seeking a degree from UC Berkeley. The revisions of the same referendum will also allow the chief personnel officer to run for a single fall or spring term instead of serving for the entire academic school year.
Referendums in recent years have addressed issues such as campus sustainability, housing insecurity and the language of the ASUC Constitution.
Last year, three out of the four referendums passed, again tacking on additional student fees: the Community and Career Connections Initiative Referendum, the Big “C” Referendum and the Housing Security Referendum.
In the 2016 ASUC elections, all four referendums passed, addressing the UC Berkeley student housing crisis and providing funds for campus sustainability projects and The Daily Californian’s operations.
Some referendums, such as corrections to the ASUC Constitution with the Enrollment Clarification Act, are costless, but others hike up the price of student fees. Students currently pay more than $1,440 yearly through 15 campus fees, 14 of which were created by passing ASUC referendums.
Currently, the most expensive campus-based fee is the Lower Sproul Fee, implemented in 2010, charging students $261 in the 2017-18 academic year to help pay back debts incurred during the renovation of Lower Sproul Plaza. The fee has incremental increases built into the ballot language.
Friday’s passage of the STARR referendum adds another student fee — now one of many.
Senior staff writers Suhauna Hussain, Sydney Fix and Malini Ramaiyer and staff writers Anjali Shrivastava, Miyako Iwata, Jessíca Jiménez, Sakura Cannestra, Mariam Zagub and Isabella Sabri contributed to this report.