ASUC Senate swears in Senator Liu, Chancellor Christ talks People’s Park

Photo of Will Liu
Josh Kahen/File
Senator Will Liu was sworn into office during the ASUC's general meeting Wednesday.

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During the ASUC’s general meeting Wednesday, Senator Will Liu was sworn into office and UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ and Vice Chancellor for Administration Marc Fisher discussed campus updates.

Senator Liu was sworn in following the resignation of ASUC Senator Dhruv Krishnaswamy. As guest speakers of the meeting, Christ and Fisher provided information on People’s Park, the upcoming spring commencement, COVID-19 vaccinations and campus budget cuts.

“We’re, I think, approaching the end of the tunnel,” Christ said during the meeting. “But we’re still in the tunnel and I know it’s hard.”

ASUC Senator Rebecca Soo asked Christ and Fisher what information they could provide about the vaccine.

Christ said campus will be a vaccine distribution center and expects to be widely distributing the vaccine by this summer, but encouraged everyone to get vaccinated earlier if the opportunity arises.

According to Fisher, campus already received its first shipment of 700 vaccines and was able to vaccinate all campus healthcare workers who are in contact with patients, such as those working at the Tang center and the optometry clinic.

Fisher, however, noted that campus is unsure when a second vaccine shipment will arrive.

Amid plans to construct housing in People’s Park, ASUC Senator Julia Castro asked about who will be working with the homeless population in the park, how its history will be commemorated and the general plans for the development.

Christ said they are planning for half of the park to be dedicated to student housing and one quarter to be donated to a nonprofit organization for permanent housing for the homeless population. The last quarter is intended to be an homage to the park’s history designed by Walter Hood, a campus professor in the College of Environmental Design.

During the public comment portion of the evening, People’s Park activist Aidan Hill spoke in opposition to the development.

“Since I came to Berkeley, I’ve been involved in People’s Park,” Hill said during the meeting. “Not just as a resident, but as a student because I cared about our community, I cared about our open space.”

Upon being asked about the campus’ plans for the spring commencement, Christ said many students want a ceremony in May as they desire closure.

Christ noted that there most likely will not be a traditional graduation ceremony, but students should expect an official announcement on commencement plans in the next week or two.

Regarding budgetary concerns, Christ said the recent sources of cuts come primarily from the state reducing the campus budget by 10%, the drop in enrollment from out-of-state and international students and cuts related to COVID-19.

Christ noted, however, that the state has recently increased its budget by 3% and with the passing of the third stimulus bill by Congress, campus will receive $42 million.

Mela Seyoum is a student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @melaseyoum.