ASUC Senate holds meeting to discuss COVID-19 relief, bills

ASUC Meeting
Allen Zeng/File

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On Wednesday, the ASUC Senate held its penultimate meeting of the academic year virtually to discuss ongoing work regarding COVID-19 relief and several bills.

External Affairs Vice President Varsha Sarveshwar reported that she was collaborating with the Student Learning Center to host several online events for students this week that address the challenges underrepresented minorities face during the pandemic.

She added that the UC Student Association Racial Justice Now Grant is now live and will be awarded to student community organization applicants that are doing outstanding work for racial justice.

After, Student Advocate Nava Bearson said she and campus’s Basic Needs Committee discussed the potential impact of the basic needs fee on students.

“We don’t think in the long run basic needs for students should fall on the backs of students themselves,” Bearson said at the meeting. “It should fall on the state and school.”

She announced their intention to “phase out” the fee and for campus administration to step in to maintain and improve economic, food and housing support.

Following the executive reports, Elections Council Chair James Weichert reported a 487% increase from 2019 in graduate student voter turnout in the 2020 ASUC election, as well as a 1% increase from 2019 in overall turnout.

“Graduate students are an important population on campus, and we hope to continue this positive trend in the future,” Weichert said at the meeting.

Weichert also discussed the bylaw reform outlined in a new bill to increase equity, accountability and transparency in ASUC elections.

The bill intends to eliminate barriers to ASUC access and representation. Weichert said he hopes to continue these conversations into the next academic year.

Then, Senator Carolyn Le thanked the other senators for approving her transfer student representative bill. While this position was established last year, transfer student representatives were not included in any bylaws, a factor that this bill rectified.

Afterward, Senator Romario, who does not use a last name and serves as chair of the ASUC COVID-19 Financial Relief Committee, moved to pass his bill to allocate any unused ASUC funds from the 2019-20 fiscal year toward the COVID-19 Financial Relief Fund.

“It’s absolutely important that we’re supporting students during the pandemic,” Romario said at the meeting.

According to its text, the bill aims to “financially empower organizations providing students with financial relief in the midst of a pandemic.” The new fund amount would total to $64,080. With 14 senators voting in favor and none opposing, the bill passed.

Toward the end of the meeting, a new bill created by Chief Legal Officer Jedidiah Tsang to create personnel onboarding training for incoming ASUC officials was assigned to the ASUC Governance and Internal Affairs Committee.

As the officers made their last reports of the year during this meeting, many expressed thanks toward their colleagues.

“This is my last official report as CLO,” Tsang said at the meeting. “It has been one of my greatest pleasures at Cal to serve alongside you all. Thank you all for an amazing year.”

Angelina Wang is a student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @dc_angelina.