ASUC Senate discusses Bears for Palestine controversy, UCPD initiatives

Emma Drake/Staff

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Following Monday’s protest, tensions were high during the third ASUC Senate meeting of the semester Wednesday.

Public comment speakers were present at the meeting, with most speakers standing in solidarity with Bears for Palestine, or BFP, and condemning the ASUC’s handling of the situation. Many speakers criticized “certain senators” and attendees — Chancellor Carol Christ herself condemned the “harmful student actions that left students feeling unsafe” at Monday’s meeting.

“I was videotaped and photographed, I am terrified of being put on an online blacklist and the woman who taped me had the audacity to say she was terrified of me,” said a campus Palestinian student activist V, who did not use a last name. “Do you know how stressful it is to be a Palestinian activist on campus?”

Various campus community members were also present and showed their solidarity with BFP’s cause.

Senator Nicole Anyanwu addressed the Christ administration’s alleged lack of support for the Black community as well as other marginalized groups on campus.

Another public comment from a campus student activist, Alecia, who did not use a last name, held a similar sentiment to Anyanwu.

“I am Black, I am Jewish, I am a queer on this campus, all of our oppressions are intertwined and for a certain senator to come up here and claim that the Jewish students are a monolith against Palestine is absolutely disgusting,” Alecia said.

UCPD Chief Margo Bennett was also in attendance, clarifying the campuswide email sent Jan. 30 outlining new police initiatives to be enacted on campus.

Bennett said UCPD is working with Eugene Whitlock, UC Berkeley’s chief human resources officer, to help devise a way to incorporate student staff into the UCPD personnel selection process.

Senator Omotara Oloye made a point of contention in the large police presence near the Fannie Lou Hamer Black Resource Center and asked if it could be relocated to a different area.

Bennett said the police cars have “nowhere else to go” and to move them would be an “astronomical financial burden.”

Christ responded to the events of Monday’s protest and provided a list of initiatives being worked on by her administration.

The initiatives included housing projects and Christ detailed the UC Board of Regents’ first discussion of an effort that would allow for a quarter of People’s Park to be reserved for permanent housing for the homeless population.

In response to the protest, Christ outlined a process of “de-escalation” and “an exploration of avenues for possible dialogue” so that marginalized communities on campus can be “heard, understood and feel comfortable to reach out.” Christ added that administrators are also consulting with campus restorative justice centers to support the ASUC and to provide support so it can “preserve itself for respectful deliberation.”

Audry Jeong is a student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @audryjng_dc.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article implied that the entire Jewish and Black campus communities were present and in solidarity with Bears for Palestine. In fact, the entire campus community opinions could not be consolidated for this article.