ASUC Senate passes bills in support of increasing student resources

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According to Bahar Navab, executive director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, the student union is at risk of experiencing a $2.2 million deficit if class instruction continues to take place online for the spring semester.

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The ASUC Senate met Wednesday to discuss the future of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union and Eshleman Hall and vote on several bills regarding resources for students.

Bahar Navab, executive director of the student union, opened the meeting with a presentation on the current activities within the buildings, which include food distribution for food-insecure students, technology distribution through the Student Technology Equity Program and COVID-19 mask distribution.

Navab added that she is talking with other administrators about a potential distribution of N95 masks from the student union as well.

The ASUC Student Union Board of Directors requested permission to use spaces, such as Pauley Ballroom, in the student union for physically distanced study space, but the city of Berkeley’s Public Health Division deferred the request until later in the semester.

“At this time, the city of Berkeley public health is not ready to approve that,” Navab said during the meeting. “We’ll bring that back up if it seems appropriate based on where things are in terms of COVID cases in the city.”

The student union board is also discussing the future of the student union buildings, according to Navab, in light of a potential $2.2 million deficit if the spring semester is also remote.

The deficit will change the student union, including which vendors are able to operate out of it.

“Pinky and Reds was one that we are hoping to continue our partnership with, but we had been subsidizing that business for a while with other commercial revenue,” Navab said during the meeting. “That’s not a reality for us anymore. We can’t subsidize anything that can’t cover its own costs.”

According to Navab, however, there are other vendors still interested in the space, and the student union is currently exploring other funding options.

Later in the night, the ASUC Senate passed three resolutions, in addition to a finance package, and approved 14 appointments to various campus committees. Along with resolutions in support of student parents and in support of the creation of a resource center for South and Southwest Asian, North African, Middle Eastern, Muslim and Sikh students, the senate unanimously passed a bill in support of refunding the PATH to Care center.

“Slashing paths budget directly impacts the safety of survivors on campus,” said Catie Haddad, ASUC Sexual Violence Commission chair, during public comment. “It’s important that the university communicates that it supports and advocates for survivors like myself and all survivors of sexual violence and sexual harassment.”

The full senate will meet Sept. 23.

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