In fall, UC Berkeley conducted a seismic assessment of its buildings — and the results were, well, shaky.
The assessment found that 68 UC Berkeley buildings posed a “serious” or “severe” risk to life. Many of these buildings are a second home to us students: the Cesar E. Chavez Student Center, Doe Memorial Library, Sproul Hall, Valley Life Sciences Building, Zellerbach Hall and Evans Hall.
Unfortunately, UC Berkeley isn’t an exception. The state had not provided the UC system with a facilities bond in 14 years, and as a result, the UC system now has significant deferred maintenance and seismic repair needs.
This outstanding need has serious consequences for UC students, staff and faculty. It means broken air conditioning systems and elevators don’t get fixed. It means outdated classrooms and labs don’t get renovated. It means students are forced to sit on the floor in lecture halls because there aren’t enough chairs. And it means that a serious earthquake would endanger all of our lives.
But there’s good news: There is something we can do about this.
In fall, thanks in part to the efforts of dozens of UC Berkeley students who called their legislators until the very end of session, lawmakers passed AB 48, which is now on the March 3 ballot as Proposition 13.
If voters pass Prop. 13 in March, California’s public education systems — K-12 schools and the UC, CSU and California Community Colleges systems — would receive $15 billion in bond funds to improve infrastructure and make critically needed seismic repairs. It would be the largest school construction bond measure in Californian history.
Prop. 13 would also require the UC and CSU systems to tackle the student housing crisis by requiring each campus that receives bond funds to produce a five-year affordable student housing plan. This plan must include each system’s plans to build more student housing, as well as a comparison of campus housing pricing to off-campus housing pricing.
Simply put, Prop. 13 recognizes that investing in UC students is key to California’s future. That’s why the University of California Student Association was proud to join the California Coalition for Public Higher Education in endorsing Prop. 13.
Voting for Prop. 13 will have a direct and meaningful impact on our lives as UC students. If you are eligible to vote, please register to vote by Feb. 18 and join me in supporting this initiative on the ballot in March.
Varsha Sarveshwar is the president of the University of California Student Association and is the ASUC External Affairs Vice President. She is a senior at UC Berkeley majoring in political science.