ASUC Senate discusses campus updates, supporting Disabled Students’ Program

Brian Bi/Staff

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The ASUC Senate met March 4 to discuss campus updates and changes with Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos and how to better support the Disabled Students’ Program, or DSP.

Alivisatos said he was at the meeting to report on multiple events occurring on campus. He began by saying that campus is currently searching for 96 faculty positions across campus.

“The student population has been growing,” Alivisatos said at the meeting. “We’ve been working very hard to try and grow the faculty.”

Of the 96, six will be entirely financed using philanthropic funds, according to Alivisatos.

Alivisatos said campus administration is committed to increasing the diversity of faculty. For example, campus plans to recruit several faculty members in positions related to the Native American experience.

Later, ASUC Senator Rocky Gerosa asked about campus plans to respond to students who had their study abroad programs suspended due to COVID-19. According to Gerosa, students’ financial aid and their ability to graduate on time could potentially be affected and they may not receive refunds for their chosen programs.

“A lot of people have been scrambling to try and get answers to these (questions),” Alivisatos said at the meeting. “We recognize that they’re all enormous problems for these students that need to get resolved.”

Alivisatos added that a crisis management team is attempting to respond to the COVID-19 presence in Alameda County.

The team advised faculty to loosen required attendance policies, according to Alivisatos.

“At this point, we do think that it’s very important that we have an environment in which a person who is unwell does not have to come to class,” Alivisatos said at the meeting. “I hope that has a big effect on student life.”

ASUC Student Advocate Nava Bearson then talked about a request from Karen Nielson, DSP director, to look into getting a larger space for the program. Bearson said the DSP lacks resources and is having trouble expanding.

Bearson asked the senators to sign a virtual letter of support for the DSP.

During ASUC Executive Vice President Andy Theocharous’s report, ASUC Senator Omotara Oloye expressed her disagreement with Theocharous’ earlier decision to count ASUC Senator Sumrit Grewal absent during a quorum roll call when Grewal was in the hall talking with a presenter. Oloye added that Theocharous had also left and talked to a presenter outside, but the meeting continued without him.

According to ASUC Chief Legal Officer Jedidiah Tsang, ASUC bylaws state that if the executive vice president and the vice chair are both absent from the room, the senate may move to elect a new speaker, but Theocharous came back before that occurred.

ASUC Senator Nicole Anyanwu then told Theocharous that the senate has the power to vacate his chair if they deem it necessary.

Theocharous was contacted for comment after the meeting but did not respond as of press time.

Sebastian Cahill is the lead student government reporter. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @SebastianCahil1.