Chancellor Carol Christ speaks about diversity at ASUC Senate meeting

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ASUC Senator Amir Wright questions Chancellor Carol Christ about the campus’s support for student-run recruitment and retention centers.

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Chancellor Carol Christ spoke at Wednesday’s ASUC Senate meeting about future financial strategies for the campus and fielded questions about the recent fee increase by the Berkeley International Student Services office.

During the meeting, Christ discussed strategic plans to create a uniform undergraduate experience, including expanding advising, encouraging learning outside the classroom and increasing diversity.

According to Christ, the new funding model would include philanthropy as a large revenue stream. She said during the meeting that she will meet with a group of donors who would be interested in increasing funding, especially if it would support the recruitment and retention of marginalized students.

During questioning, Senators Zach Carter and Teddy Lake ceded some of their time to Senator Amir Wright, who asked Christ what her plans were for supporting the campus’s student-run recruitment and retention centers, or RRCs. Other senators, such as Senators Idalys Perez and Amma Sarkodee-Adoo, also asked questions about Christ’s commitment to the campus’s retention centers.

“We just need a solid commitment of funds to our RRCs so they can go out and do the work that administrators should be doing,” Wright said. “Students have busy lives to lead. … It shouldn’t be on us.”

Increasing diversity is one of the campus’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee’s goals, and Christ expressed commitment to increasing the number of Black and Native American students on campus. After acknowledging a University of Southern California study that stated UC Berkeley has the lowest equity index rating out of all UC campuses for Black students, Christ discussed utilizing donations to support Black students.

She also referred to a set of scholarships that were awarded to 28 Black students this year. The students will receive $8,000 annually for a maximum of $40,000 over the course of five years.

“We are still developing what our whole plan is going to be, and what the price tag is going to be, so it’s not like we’re doing things piecemeal, but we’re think(ing it through),” Christ said.

Christ also fielded questions about a new increase in the International Office Services Fee, which costs $56 and is being levied on international students this academic year. The senate also introduced two resolutions at the meeting about the fee increase, opting to pass one immediately and send the other into the University and External Affairs Committee.

The passed resolution expressed the senate’s opposition to the fee, which highlighted the lack of financial aid options for international students and increasing nonresident tuition.

Senator James Li said in an email that the international student community has not seen how the fee’s funds would be spent. The second resolution, which was passed into committee, would demand for the allocation of these funds to be public.

“It is crucial that we must demand for transparency,” Li said in an email. “If BIO services cannot reflect the additional increase in funds attained from the international student fee, then this fee is nothing more than a financial burden for international students.”

Sakura Cannestra and Ronit Sholkoff at [email protected].