ASUC Senate discusses student life, hears presentation on campus policing

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Lisi Ludwig/File
The ASUC Senate discussed the potential reopening of parts of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, the Cesar E. Chavez Student Center and Eshleman Hall for student use.

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The 2020-21 ASUC Senate has fully begun its functions, passing resolutions as well as discussing student life and campus policing at its meeting Wednesday.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton was the first guest speaker of the night, focusing on the student initiatives that his department has created to build community amid a virtual semester.

Sutton said student wellness was one of the top priorities of his office, as well as racial justice initiatives.

“One of the things we hear so much about what’s happening in the world of Zoom is that people really have to focus on their personal wellness,” Sutton said during the meeting. “Creating a culture of equity and inclusion and belonging — this is something that is so critical for our campus, so central to our values.”

In addition to the efforts to improve campus climate, UC Berkeley administration is also working on plans to reopen buildings.

According to Sutton, campus has received permission from the Berkeley Public Health Division to open about 15 rooms in Eshleman Hall for students who need a quiet space to study, teach or conduct interviews. Campus is still determining a mechanism for room reservations.

Once public health conditions improve, campus will likely be opening the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, followed by the Cesar E. Chavez Student Center and Eshleman Hall, Sutton said.

After Sutton spoke, two representatives from UCPD — Lt. Sabrina Reich and Administrative Sgt. Nicolas Hernandez — presented to the senate on their various initiatives. Reich said UCPD’s new community engagement unit has multiple projects underway to increase community engagement, including virtual “Coffee with a Cop” and developing a community academy to increase education on policing.

“We don’t think the community is really ready for a community academy at this point,” Reich said during the meeting. “But, we’re going forward on how we can best create a learning experience on both sides.”

Once the guest presentations ended, executive and appointed officers gave updates. student union board chair Ken Lohatepanont used his time to publicly announce his resignation, effective at the end of September.

He said the time difference between Berkeley and Thailand and his classes have made it necessary to end his term with the ASUC early.

“It’s been a good run for me,” Lohatepanont said during the meeting. “The ASUC has absolutely been a highlight of my academic career at Berkeley, and I will miss being part of student government.”

The ASUC Senate passed three bills about internal procedures and approved 42 committee assignments. It will be meeting next on Sept. 9.

Kate Finman is the lead student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @KateFinman_DC.