The ASUC discussed efforts to secure and expand financial aid for UC students in its final meeting of the semester Wednesday.
Guest speaker Aidan Arasasingham, president of the UC Student Association, or UCSA, talked about efforts across the UC system to broadly expand financial aid and reverse the college affordability gap for students by persuading Congress to double the Federal Pell Grants and pass a second Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act stimulus package. UCSA also aims to create a debt-free pathway for students by reforming the UC system’s financing of education.
ASUC External Affairs Vice President Derek Imai said he had been meeting with state offices to discuss prioritizing state investment in higher education, as well as conducting virtual federal lobby visits with Congress members representing the Bay Area, which will continue in the spring.
“If you have any personal testimonies as to what you want to see change in local state politics, we’d love to hear you out,” Imai said. “This is all in preparation for when advocacy will be heating up next year. It’s going to be really important that we have a lot of testimonies year-round stopping any tuition hikes with the huge financial crisis that the pandemic has caused.”
The ASUC Office of the President also announced its launch of the Multicultural Initiative Fund on Dec. 2, which will provide $70,000 worth of grants to campus organizations that need support in hosting virtual community events.
Cameron Whiteside, ASUC Financial Wellness Commission chair, said the commission members are focusing their efforts on promoting December scholarships and supporting marginalized groups on campus. Whiteside added that they are also working toward creating a DeCal and have just launched commission office hours to provide students with financial advice and information.
Multiple resolutions were passed unanimously at the meeting, including resolutions supporting the implementation of xenophobia prevention training in New Student Services programs, condemning the Department of Homeland Security’s treatment of Black immigrants in detention centers and supporting the extension of the application deadline for applications to the UC system for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle, among many others.
In a parting speech for this semester, ASUC President Victoria Vera spoke about her efforts to foster a more inclusive student government at UC Berkeley.
“This semester was a lot of learning curves for me — learning about how to run this office, but also learning about how, sometimes, it can be very exclusionary,” Vera said. “How do we open up this office? How do we change the culture of the ASUC to address a lot of the internal issues that we do have and how do we hold ourselves accountable? Sometimes, it’s very hard in this role to feel like I’m doing a good job, though you may look up to me, hold me accountable and talk to me about these issues.”