ASUC Senate discusses UC Berkeley’s response to COVID-19 pandemic

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The ASUC Senate met virtually Wednesday to discuss accommodations campus will be taking moving forward in response to COVID-19, the new coronavirus.

The meeting began with Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education Catherine Koshland discussing what campus is doing to accommodate those who are most disadvantaged regarding the online methods of education the campus adopted.

“In the coming months, we are going to be learning a lot and we are going to be very mindful of students when it comes to accommodating them in what has become a very unprecedented situation,” Koshland said at the meeting.

ASUC Senator Nicole Anyanwu brought up concerns over what was being done for students part of the Disabled Students’ Program. She cited incidences where professors allegedly offered little to no support to help accommodate these students.

Anyanwu also brought up concerns over those without access to a laptop or Wi-Fi. Koshland responded that campus is currently aware of technology accessibility issues and is going to be procuring more ways to check out laptops and hotspots.

ASUC Senator Evina Wang raised similar concerns in regard to international students, putting particular emphasis on the difference in time zones. Koshland responded that campus administration has been encouraging faculty to realize that students are now dispersed and said support for each other is needed “now more than ever.”

ASUC External Affairs Vice President Varsha Sarveshwar discussed the UC Student Association’s letter that was sent to the Board of Regents that would outline concerns in terms of responses to COVID-19 that need to be seen at a systemwide level. Sarveshwar’s office is also working on getting more accessible voting locations for students in the coming November elections.

ASUC President Amma Sarkodee-Adoo announced the possibility of the Recreational Sports Facility moving some of its classes to a virtual platform so that participants can workout from home. In addition, Cal Dining may also be moving to boxed meals rather than an open cafeteria, although it is still working out the logistics to this method, according to Sarkodee-Adoo.

At the meeting, the senate passed one bill, which supports academic accommodations and adjustments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill includes support for the adoption of the A+/A/A-/B+ grading system for the spring term of the 2019-20 academic year, which would mean no student would get a grade lower than a B+. The bill also encourages the postponement of the deadline to opt into pass/no pass until at least May 5, among other accommodations. A letter was sent to the Academic Senate as well.

“This really is a two-way street for both students and faculty. We need to be able to support students and likewise, students should be there as well to support us in these trying times,” Koshland said at the meeting. “We’re all just trying to get through a tough time.”

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