ASUC Senate promotes student advocacy initiatives

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In response to many international students reporting difficulty using the virtual private network to connect remotely to the campus’s network, the ASUC Senate passed a resolution urging UC Berkeley to find a better solution for restricted network access issues.

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The ASUC Senate focused on student advocacy initiatives at its Halloween-themed meeting Wednesday, passing five resolutions.

UC Student Regent-designate and UC Berkeley transfer student Alexis Zaragoza opened the meeting with a presentation on her priorities for UC advocacy. She discussed the UC system’s involvement in the Thirty Meter Telescope, or TMT, project on Maunakea, which has been opposed by student advocates for its potential effects on Native Hawaiians and their land.

“We’re not going to be making any big agreements and signing off on anything with the TMT group until we have a final decision by the regents,” Zaragoza said at the meeting. “Most of the regents are leaning away from it, but they’re not really sure how to handle it.”

She added it will likely be discussed at a regents’ meeting after more conversations are had and a plan is developed.

After Zaragoza, the ASUC executive officials gave their reports, including Executive Vice President Melvin Tangonan, who discussed controversy between the ASUC Student Union Board of Directors and campus administration.

According to Tangonan, the ASUC Student Union’s executive director and marketing team rebranded parts of the ASUC Student Union as the “Berkeley Student Union” without ASUC or Graduate Assembly consent.

“This rebranding is undercutting the ASUC’s autonomy and control of student spaces,” Tangonan’s presentation slides stated. “This is not okay, we are upset.”

According to board chair Brian Zhou, the board voted to reverse the changes and formed a committee to explore the issue further.

The senate then passed five resolutions, including one that aims to support students who are survivors of sexual violence and sexual harassment, or SVSH. It directs the ASUC to review its SVSH policies and urges campus to increase funding for the PATH to Care support center after budget cuts were made.

The senate also passed a resolution supporting the termination of PepsiCo’s exclusive rights at UC Berkeley.

PepsiCo is currently in a contract with UC Berkeley that provides $1.3 million annually to the school in exchange for exclusive pouring rights on campus. The resolution text alleges PepsiCo participates in labor abuses and pollution practices that target marginalized communities.

“If the University dismissed our call, they are complicit in all the social and environmental harms perpetuated by partnering with PepsiCo on our campus and globally,” said Selena Melgoza, co-director of the ASUC Department of Unsustainable Partnerships, in an email.

ASUC Senator Sarah Bancroft, the resolution’s sponsor, added in an email that the senate will advocate for students to have more voting power when campus signs future contracts.

In response to many international students reporting difficulty using the virtual private network, or VPN, to connect remotely to the campus’s network, the senate passed a resolution urging UC Berkeley to find a better solution for restricted network access issues.

“The VPN service provided by the University currently is very weak, and those students deserve equitable access to learning,” said ASUC Senator Rex Zhang, the resolution’s sponsor, in an email. “(The bill) shows a united front from the ASUC that we care about students who are abroad and we care about academic equity.”

Contact Kate Finman and Amudha Sairam at [email protected].