UC Berkeley junior Bradley Silvernail is running independently for ASUC Senate to change the way graduate students are represented by the organization and to lower tuition and housing costs for students.
Although graduate students are represented by the ASUC, it is an undergraduate organization, and the Graduate Assembly, which only has the power to recommend, is weaker than its undergraduate counterpart, according to Silvernail. Graduate students have demonstrated their dissatisfaction with the status quo when the Graduate Assembly voted unanimously to add an independence proposition to the 2020 ballot, Silvernail said.
“What we would like to achieve would be to create a constitutional amendment to change the system, giving them proper representation — either separating them or potentially maybe compromise and give them co-equal legislative status,” Silvernail said.
Additionally, Silvernail noted that graduate students are essentially equal students and deserve equal representation.
Silvernail is hoping to address what he perceives to be the high cost and low supply of campus student housing, a problem that is exacerbated by overly stringent regulation.
As part of Silvernail’s housing policy, he supports the development of People’s Park.
“There’s a definite, long history of protests and stuff, which is great, and I’m pretty much in favor of preserving that,” Silvernail said. “At the same time, we can’t sacrifice housing that can be built for all these students who are in need of housing, especially for more affordable housing so people can actually stay on campus and don’t have to commute from a long distance.”
Silvernail also urges the UC Board of Regents to freeze tuition increases for the foreseeable future.
A transfer student from Ventura County, Silvernail has experience working for the Associated Students of Ventura College, his community college’s student organization. However, his status as a transfer student coupled with a lack of staff members or social media campaign comes with some challenges.
“You’re pretty much limited to your own circle of people that you know,” Silvernail said. “As in my case, where I don’t really have any big social media accounts or anything where I know more people, it makes it really, exponentially more difficult to try to get your word out to people.”
Overall, Silvernail views graduate student representation as his highest priority.
Whereas housing and tuition policies require the cooperation of the UC system — and in some cases, the city government — the ASUC has the authority to unilaterally enact changes to graduate student representation, Silvernail said.
“Most of the undergraduate students focus on their own security,” Silvernail said. “I don’t mean to undermine that, but at the same time, graduate students are part of the constituency, but they don’t vote that often because they don’t really have much to say.”