ASUC Senators discuss institutional resilience, community agreements in tense meeting

Brianna Luna/Staff

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The ASUC Senate held a tension-filled meeting Wednesday, discussing institutional resilience, Course Capture and security for speaker events before erupting into arguments over community agreements and senate conduct.

Catherine Koshland, the vice chancellor of undergraduate education, spoke at the start of the meeting about the Instructional Resilience Task Force, lessons learned from the recent power outage and an upcoming fundraising campaign.

Senators Nicole Anyanwu, Sylvia Targ and Omotara Oloye said at the meeting they hoped more classes would incorporate Course Capture and digital resources into their curriculum. Koshland said she agreed, adding that discussions were currently underway to use technology to improve the way course materials are provided.

“We estimate that we would save all of you collectively somewhere between $2 to 3 million a year in the cost of readers,” Koshland said at the meeting. “You are paying twice for things that we’ve already licensed.”

Koshland added that campus is considering implementing a “wellness day” as a long weekend in October, as she got feedback after last month’s campus closure that the break was needed. She said campus had recently been exploring the idea and a lot of factors would go into the decision.

ASUC President Amma Sarkodee-Adoo discussed Ann Coulter’s upcoming event organized by Berkeley College Republicans, which prompted comments from Senator Romario as well as Anyanwu and Oloye about the nature of security at these events.

The senate passed several items at the meeting including support for a formal grief absence policy and two finance allocation packages, making up for last week’s missed finance resolution because of the power outage.

The tensions that dominated the meeting heightened after Executive Vice President, or EVP, Andy Theocharous mentioned several senators by name and asked them to put their technology away, in accordance with ASUC bylaws.

Senator Media Sina later condemned this decision to directly refer to senators and said she felt it made the ASUC look bad.

“I believe it should still be a community guideline to refrain from being on our laptops or phones or being distracted while we have important speakers in, but I don’t think it looks good on us as a class to be called out in front of administrators,” Sina said at the meeting. “The executives are always talking about the legitimacy of the ASUC. One part of that is looking that we have it together.”

Theocharous countered Sina’s sentiments, which were echoed by many other senators, and said the ASUC bylaws allow him to hold senators accountable as he sees fit.

More tension erupted after Senator Milton Zerman called the recent resignation of Rep. Katie Hill, D-Santa Clarita, “an untimely end” and mentioned his new project to bring Republican Rep. Steve Knight, who was Hill’s predecessor, to speak on campus.

Anyanwu and Oloye said at the meeting that they found this upsetting.

“This is just really difficult to say. I don’t care what you think about someone personally,” Anyanwu said at the meeting. “You need to be very cognizant when you bring (compromising photos and videos of women) up into spaces just because there a lot of people impacted.”

Theocharous eventually ended debate and stopped acknowledging senators’ points, which made many, including Anyanwu and Zerman, upset.

The senators requested to move into closed session at the end of next week’s meeting to create community guidelines and discuss tensions.

“I think it’s important to take a look at (the community agreements),” Anyanwu said at the meeting. “We want to be respectful of everyone’s opinions inside this space and also we want to be respectful of people’s time and comment.”

Contact Alexandra Feldman and Kate Finman at [email protected].