ASUC Senate discusses equity initiatives, new student services

photo of ASUC logo
Lisi Ludwig/File
The ASUC Senate passed a finance package and discussed Golden Bear Orientation, among other topics, at its meeting Wednesday.

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The ASUC Senate discussed current semester initiatives and plans regarding equity, inclusion and services for new students at its Wednesday night meeting.

UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion and guest speaker Oscar Dubón discussed his goal of bringing an “equity and belonging lens” to campus decision-making. According to Dubón, the Division of Equity and Inclusion serves between a quarter and a third of the faculty, staff and students on campus, as well as about 70,000 middle school, high school and community college students.

“We want everyone to bring their full, authentic selves here to campus — not just in social groups, but also in the classroom, in student organizations and in the programs we provide to support student success,” Dubón said during the meeting.

One of the initiatives Dubón is most excited about campus’s move toward becoming a Hispanic-Serving Institution to ensure all first-generation, low-income and historically underrepresented students feel welcome on campus. Dubón said he wants these students to “see themselves” in every dimension on campus, from the student population to the faculty and curriculum.

The Division of Equity and Inclusion also recently received funding to create a sociocultural space for students with disabilities at the Hearst Field Annex, according to Dubón. He added that he wants to create a committee of representatives with disabilities to provide advice to campus leadership.

The Division of Equity and Inclusion is also working on a project to make the school into an “anti-racist campus,” according to Dubón.

“It is extremely important to welcome and affirm each other’s full humanity,” Dubón said during the meeting. “I know from my experience as a scholar that is how the best research, teaching, discovery and co-creation happens.”

Assistant Dean of Students and Director of New Student Services Micki Antovich spoke at length during the meeting about this semester’s virtual Golden Bear Orientation, or GBO, which was held from Aug. 20 to 25.

This semester’s GBO had the highest number of orientation leaders and orientation mentors since GBO began in 2017, according to Antovich. She added that the cost of GBO per person was also reduced from $475 to $380 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During this year’s program, student groups were divided between freshmen and transfer students, as well as between residential and commuter students. Events were held online, and everything was recorded except for small group meetings.

Antovich also spoke about efforts to make GBO more inclusive and accessible, as well as plans to continue engagement with freshmen and new transfer students throughout the year, rather than having the programming end after the week of GBO.

Several ASUC commissions, including the Financial Wellness Commission, Sexual Violence Commission, Sustainability Team and Mental Health Commission, updated the senate on current operations, with 16 appointments being made to the commissions. The ASUC Senate also passed a finance package at the meeting.

Contact Lauren Good at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @lgooddailycal.