Graduate students set to vote for updated student government fee in ASUC election

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The Graduate Assembly, or GA, Fee referendum, which will appear on the 2021 ASUC election ballot, would implement certain changes to an existing GA fee. One of the updates would include increasing the original fee of $27.50 per semester to $33 per semester.

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A fee referendum for UC Berkeley graduate students that would update an existing Graduate Assembly, or GA, fee is set to appear on the 2021 ASUC election ballot.

The referendum, called the GA Fee, would end graduate students’ contributions to the ASUC fee, among other differences. These include raising the original fee from $27.50 per semester — with an additional $3 if enrolled in UC Berkeley summer sessions — to $33 a semester, according to the referendum proposal. It would also increase the amount allocated for student financial aid.

Emily Mullin, a GA delegate and member of the governance work group that developed the resolution, said in an email that the ASUC fee currently gives 20%, or $5.60, to student financial aid, which is not in line with other campus fees.

If passed, the referendum would allocate $22 of the GA Fee toward the graduate student government and $11 to financial aid for graduate students, according to Mullin.

“While the fee will go up to $33 per semester, only $0.10 of that increase will actually go to the GA,” Mullin said in the email.

She added that the ASUC fee currently gives $21.90 of the total fee to the GA.

The proposal also states that the referendum would remove the summer part of the fee, but the policy would need to be renewed after five years. Mullin added in the email that the fee would give graduate students autonomy in choosing the fees they pay, as it would have to be renewed once it sunsets, or expires. In contrast, the ASUC fee for graduate students does not have a sunset clause.

According to Mullin, the referendum was referred by GA delegates at their meeting in March and was developed to reform the student government’s fee organization. Mullin noted that the current ASUC fee has graduate student payments first go to campus, then to the ASUC and, finally, to the GA.

“One of our goals in proposing this referendum is to simplify that procedure, allowing graduate student fee dollars to go straight from campus to the GA,” Mullin said in the email.

The referendum would also allow GA funds to be moved to an independent graduate student government if it is developed and acknowledged by campus before the fee expires, according to the proposal.

The GA voted unanimously in 2018 to separate the graduate student government from the ASUC, and a majority of the graduate students who were polled about the resolution in 2020 supported it.

“While this current referendum does not formally separate the Graduate Assembly from the ASUC, it is crafted in order to facilitate that, if all of the (many) other necessary approvals are granted in the future,” the proposal states. “In the meantime, it addresses many deficiencies with the student government fee paid by graduate students.”

Contact Natalie Lu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @natalie_c_lu.