The 2019 ASUC elections offer students the opportunity to vote for candidates and also the chance to vote on three referendums: the Student Basic Needs Referendum, the Transfer Remedy Act and the Arts, Music and Programming, or AMP, Initiative.
The referendums each deal with different campus topics and come at different costs. The Student Basic Needs Referendum would establish a student basic needs fee totaling $15 per semester, whereas the AMP Initiative would increase the student activity fee by $6 per semester, $4 of which would go directly to ASUC SUPERB and the rest of which would go toward financial aid. The Transfer Remedy Act would come at no extra cost to students.
The Basic Needs Referendum would expand food assistance to students both eligible and ineligible for CalFresh, a supplemental nutrition assistance program, and will also provide support to students facing housing insecurity.
According to Nava Bearson, co-chief of staff for the Office of the ASUC Student Advocate, 84 percent of the revenue will go toward direct relief resources. 278 students who are not eligible for CalFresh will be able to receive $192 per month to buy groceries. In addition, the referendum will provide grants up to $1,000 for 140 students to cover emergency-related housing services including temporary housing and rental assistance.
ASUC Student Advocate Sophie Bandarkar said the referendum was created because the Basic Needs Center will be losing funding from the UC after this fiscal year. Both Bandarkar and Bearson said that while drafting this referendum, they realized that it would ask students to increase their fees.
“This Referendum serves as the beginning of this larger, long-range effort for student equity and wellness across the nation,” said ASUC Senator Regina Kim, who helped draft the referendum, in an email. “We were intentional about the amount for the Student Basic Needs Referendum to communicate student commitment to this effort and urge other decision-making entities to take actionable measures to support us.”
The AMP Initiative aims to finance ASUC SUPERB, the “largest and only entertainment productions program on campus at UC Berkeley,” according to the referendum.
According to ASUC SUPERB co-general manager Rachel Arbios, the funding for SUPERB will be used to increase the frequency and efficiency of events. This does, however, come with a price to increase student fees.
“With this fee, SUPERB will continue to deliver events varying from concerts on Lower Sproul like Cupcakke to movie screenings on the Glade such as Incredibles 2,” Arbios said in an email. “Overall this referendum strives to help students find a balance with positive academic environment through entertainment and arts.”
The third referendum, the Transfer Remedy Act, would create a new voting position in the ASUC Senate reserved for a transfer student. This referendum was created to establish permanent representation for the transfer community, according to Neil McClintick, the transfer director in ASUC President Alexander Wilfert’s office and a former columnist for The Daily Californian.
McClintick has been involved with advocacy for the transfer community through his efforts to waive commuter costs and expand transfer housing in Maximino Martinez Commons. McClintick said he hopes that through this new position, there will be more conversation in the senate regarding issues facing the transfer community.
The creation of this referendum was initially met with some hesitation within the ASUC, according to Wilfert. He added that the Transfer Remedy Act is a “fairly radical” solution that many were worried about because it would change the ASUC. Wilfert said, however, that there is support from the Office of the President and among the transfer community to push this referendum through.
Though this referendum only affects about a third of the student population, Wilfert said students should support it because it is a solution to the “gross inequity” on the campus.
“Even if something doesn’t specifically affect you, a win for a community is a win for the student body,” McClintick said.