ASUC Senate discusses student aid, fall semester amid COVID-19 pandemic

Sakura Cannestra/Staff

Related Posts

During its meeting Wednesday, the ASUC Senate heard from CalTV representatives and discussed campus’s responses to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, addressing topics such as student aid and academic instruction for the fall 2020 semester.

After amending the meeting agenda to include several additional bills — including one that nominated campus sophomore Nathan Mizell as executive vice president, or EVP, for the remainder of the semesterthe meeting began with ASUC Elections Council Chair James Weichert reading the certified results of the 2020 election.

Then, Olivia Henderson and Walid Al-Baki, both of whom are executive directors of CalTV, showed the senators a video reel of their work in the past semester. According to its website, CalTV is Berkeley’s only student-run TV station and is funded by the ASUC.

“Some of the folks in the ASUC don’t really know that we’re here to serve you guys,” Henderson said at the meeting. “We want to get input from you guys and make this a better and stronger partnership going forward.”

The directors added that they collaborate with Registered Student Organizations to highlight their work and can come to ASUC events and create promotional content.

ASUC External Affairs Vice President Varsha Sarveshwar said during her report that the campus will use the money it receives from the congressional Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act to provide aid to students with social security numbers who have not received emergency aid. UC Berkeley will use its own funds to provide for those who are not covered by the act, including undocumented and international students.

Sarveshwar added that the budget picture for the UC system is “not great” and said she is sending a letter to the state about how the UC system cannot cover its costs alone.

“The campuses did the right thing in allowing students to leave, and we don’t think the UC should be made to pay for all of that,” Sarveshwar said during the meeting. “The state has a role to play with making sure the university is taken care of.”

ASUC Academic Affairs Vice President Aastha Jha reported at the meeting that there will be a “big” emphasis on the honor code for finals this semester.

Additionally, how classes will be conducted for the fall semester depends on many factors that are not in campus’s control, according to Jha.

“I think they want to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Jha said at the meeting. “They are taking measures right now just in case stuff does need to be online in the fall and exploring hybrid options.”

Jha said campus will likely make a statement about plans for the fall semester by the end of April. 

Toward the end of the meeting, Mizell was sworn in as EVP for the remainder of the semester.

“I’m looking forward to taking over the role and making as much of a change as I can in these three weeks, which are critical,” Mizell said during the meeting.

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