Graduate Assembly discusses potential community space Anthony Hall

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The UC Berkeley Graduate Assembly discusses a partnership with the Native American campus community to share Anthony Hall at its Thursday meeting.

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During its Thursday meeting, the UC Berkeley Graduate Assembly, or GA, discussed a partnership with the American Indian campus community to share Anthony Hall and passed several student fees to be voted on in the ASUC elections.

Several members of the Native campus community spoke at the meeting to ask the GA for a partnership in the use of Anthony Hall as a community space. The Native community is seeking the space as a temporary solution for about three to five years, while they search for a permanent location that can accommodate their needs, according to Phenocia Bauerle, director of UC Berkeley’s Native American Student Development office.

“Invisibility is a very big issue for us,” said Beth Piatote, campus associate professor of Native American studies, during the meeting. “Having a space where we can see each other and have some shared experience where we can visit and validate our identities is really important.”

Piatote said the Native community has been searching for a space to gather for several decades but has not been able to secure a building.

She also noted the importance of a community space, where students in the Native community can gather and create intergenerational connections, share food and contribute to cultural events.

Ataya Cesspooch, a doctoral candidate in the campus department of environmental science, policy and management, said she almost dropped out of her program during her first year as it was challenging to find a community and connect with other Native students.

“It was immensely difficult to connect with folks at Berkeley,” Cesspooch said during the meeting. “While my fellow graduate students were kind and cordial, there were very few people on campus that I could really relate to as a Native woman.”

Patrick Naranjo, executive director of the campus American Indian Graduate Program, said Anthony Hall as a community space would help graduate Native students connect with one another and talk about their research and experiences.

Following this discussion, there was more deliberation among the GA about the use of Anthony Hall, which ended in a motion for the executive board to create a memorandum of understanding with the Native community.

The GA then passed three student fees to be voted on by the student body during the ASUC’s April elections.

The GA fee would be $33 for graduate and professional students, effectively ending the ASUC fee. If approved, the fee would last until 2026.

“It also implicitly demonstrates our continued commitment to long term independence,” said Adam Orford, chair of the GA Governance Workgroup, during the meeting.

If approved, the student technology fee, which has generally been $51 per semester, would continue at this price for the next three years and then increase to $54 for the following four years. The fee would pay for various softwares such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Cloud. However, which software to buy can be adjusted based on student needs.

The Daily Cal Initiative also passed and if approved, would be a $6 fee per semester with a 50-cent yearly increase for the next five years and a flat summer fee of $2.50. There would also be a committee to oversee the fee, including one graduate student, undergraduate student and Daily Cal representative.

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