Student groups speak about communities, initiatives at ASUC Senate meeting

Katherine Finman/Staff

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Student groups representing marginalized communities discussed the different initiatives and services they offer to students as well as the issues they face during Wednesday night’s weekly ASUC Senate meeting.

The meeting started with a presentation from Kyra Abrams, Jaquay Jones and Maya Hammond of UC Berkeley’s Black Student Union, or BSU. They gave senators a short history of race on campus, which included information about disproportionate graduation rates for Black students. They also discussed BSU’s past efforts to acquire space for the Fannie Lou Hamer Black Resource Center, which included blocking Sather Gate and painting the Big C red, black and green after the Pan-African flag.

Hammond, who is serving as BSU’s chair, added that the organization hopes to work more closely with the ASUC this year and to further its efforts on outreach and retention for Black students, which the presenters said is currently lacking.

“I know I walk on this campus as a Black person, and I don’t feel welcome,” said Jones, the internal vice president of BSU. “We don’t want to be outsiders in our own institution.”

Students from the Queer Alliance Resource Center, or QARC, also introduced their projects, which include an internship program and a mission to provide basic needs resources and school supplies such as textbooks to LGBTQ+ students who need them. They also discussed QARC’s efforts to move into a bigger space, from the fourth floor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union to the Hearst Field Annex.

QARC Director Mia Villasenor also urged the senators to include conscious queer — and transgender —inclusive programming in all of their offices.

“The precedent has been that queer and trans advocacy is kind of like an afterthought, but the precedent doesn’t have to be,” Villasenor said. “We can get past that, and this can be a thing that we all follow.”

Members of the Latinx Caucus, a student-run Latinx community and advocacy organization on campus, also said space was a priority for them this year and expressed a desire to have a Latinx resource center on campus.

The senators passed five measures at the meeting, all of which approved nominations and appointments for positions. Four students from the Office of the External Affairs Vice President, or EAVP, were also nominated to positions within the UC Student Association, or UCSA, which is a UC-wide student advocacy organization.

Campus senior Mark Green and campus junior Ariana De La Fuente are this year’s legislative co-directors and will focus on legislation advocacy and lobbying, according to ASUC EAVP and UCSA President Varsha Sarveshwar. Campus sophomore Kyndall Dowell and campus senior Teddy Lake are this year’s organizing co-directors and will be focusing on coalition-building on campus.

“They are all student advocacy powerhouses who make my office run on a day-to-day basis,” Sarveshwar said in an email.

ASUC Senator Haazim Amirali will be serving on the Basic Needs Referendum Oversight Committee.

The committee is run as a collaboration between the Student Advocate’s Office and the Basic Needs Center to make sure the Basic Needs Referendum, which was passed last year, is “working for all students,” according to Amirali.

“I wanted to get more involved in the committee and be more intrinsically a part of serving students,” Amirali said. “I love to really put the things I learn into my work.”

Katherine Finman is the lead student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @KateFinman_DC.