Guest speakers dominate conversation at weekly ASUC Senate meeting

Kate Finman/Staff

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Online classes, community relations with police and possible tuition increases were some of the many topics discussed at Wednesday night’s ASUC Senate meeting.

The meeting opened with guest speaker Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos, who discussed increasing the consistency of bCourses use among faculty, potentially decreasing costs of textbooks and readers that could be available online and in campus libraries.

Alivisatos added that campus will be offering more online courses in the spring, including Political Science 3, Asian American Studies 20AC and Psychology 1. He also spoke about increased diversity initiatives involving newly hired faculty.

“If you look at our faculty demographics, the new hires are extremely much more diverse than, you know, the history of hiring we’ve had in 35 years,” Alivisatos said at the meeting. “We’ve put a lot of thought into how we’re doing our searches.”

UCPD Chief Margo Bennett also updated the senate, saying UCPD is hiring more officers. She added that she is planning on having the new officers walk around campus in civilian clothing and potentially speak with a few student groups to familiarize themselves with campus.

At the meeting, ASUC Senator Romario asked Bennett about what steps UCPD plans to take in response to a recent survey showing low trust for police within transgender and gender-nonconforming students.

Bennett said UCPD has a LGBTQ liaison officer, Zoe Garlick, who will work with the community.

“I think it’s really important to open ourselves up in the degree of vulnerability that we need to have in what’s creating the anxiety and what we can do collaboratively to address that,” Bennett said at the meeting.

Campus senior Alena Morales from the newly established ASUC Disabled Students Ad Hoc Committee spoke about the group’s progress over the past few months, which includes working to increase accommodations during Golden Bear Orientation.

Because of last week’s power outage, the ASUC executive officials gave the senate reports on their activities over the last two weeks.

ASUC President Amma Sarkodee-Adoo gave an overview of her role in the shutdown, as well as her future plans.

“This was the first time campus had shut off power in 30 years,” Sarkodee-Adoo said during the meeting. “It was obviously a learning experience for campus, especially given that this is likely not going to be the last time.”

She added that she hopes a campus procedure is developed to regulate future shutdowns.

ASUC External Affairs Vice President Varsha Sarveshwar also addressed the senate, discussing recently passed state and local laws that her office advocated for, including the City Council’s recent ordinance against discrimination based on hairstyle and the addition of a statewide infrastructure bond eligible to the UC system on the March 2020 ballot.

She also discussed her initiatives on the UC level, which include tracking the UC Board of Regents’ discussions on cohort-based tuition raises and finding the replacement of the retiring UC president, Janet Napolitano.

“(Cohort-based tuition), up until a couple of days ago, was something we thought they would talk about at the November regents’ meeting,” Sarveshwar said at the meeting, adding that the vote has been delayed. “Either way, the regents will adopt a budget in November that, more likely than not, will give an assumption about a tuition increase.”

The senate passed five bills and one nomination at the meeting, including two resolutions on the accessibility of the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

They also passed a bill authored by Sarveshwar that asks the city to end their lawsuit against campus in exchange for an increase in funds to support emergency and other services, as well as supportive housing projects.

“I wrote the bill to show that students want to see the City and campus resolve their differences as quickly as possible so that the Upper Hearst Project can move forward,” Sarveshwar said in an email. “To me, these are fair terms, and I’m hopeful that in the coming weeks the City and campus will agree.”

Contact Kate Finman and Emma Rooholfada at [email protected].