As they have in previous years, the referendums on the 2021 ASUC ballot involve improvements to student life at UC Berkeley and the expansion of resources for a variety of student communities on campus.
This year, there are four referendums on the ballot: the Student Technology Fee, Protecting the Checks and Balances of the ASUC Constitution, the Graduate Assembly Fee and The Daily Cal Initiative. The Daily Californian Editorial Board spoke with proponents of the referendums to better understand the motivations behind each and the effect it would have if passed. Below are the board’s endorsements.
Student Technology Fee — YES
The UC Berkeley campus fee has been subject to much scrutiny this year from students who are reluctant to pay the large sum despite not being on campus. We understand and respect this concern. That said, the Student Technology Fee — comprising $51 of the total campus fee — is an important one to renew regardless of campus use.
If passed, this referendum will continue funding crucial services such as the Open Computing Facility, Student Technology Equity Program and Library Laptop Lending program — all of which help improve equity of access to technology on campus. Because many students will still be recovering from difficult financial situations when they return to campus in the fall, demand for these services will likely be high.
In addition, the referendum would renew access to a variety of valuable software programs, including Adobe Creative Cloud and Microsoft Office, at a markedly discounted price. With the Student Technology Fee, students get a lot of bang for their buck. Considering that some or all of the above resources are at risk of being eliminated if the referendum fails, UC Berkeley students should support this fee.
Vote yes on the Student Technology Fee referendum.
The Daily Cal received funds from the Student Tech Fund in 2017 and 2019.
Protecting the Checks and Balances of the ASUC Constitution — YES
Crucial to any democracy is a nonpartisan oversight body, and this referendum would help ensure the ASUC Judicial Council remains unbiased and insulated from ASUC elections. It’s no secret the ASUC has struggled with divisive party politics in the past. By updating the constitution to preclude conflict of interest in the Judicial Council, this referendum will help strengthen democratic processes in our student government.
This referendum also clarifies a technicality in the Judicial Council attendance policy, closing a rather silly loophole regarding attendance requirements that could potentially be exploited for partisan purposes. While it’s puzzling how the loophole was approved in the first place, the clarification is clear-cut.
The final main component of the referendum involves raising the attendance requirement for Judicial Councilmembers, from 30% of meetings to 40%. Because this requirement already seems quite low, the 10% boost will only help further ensure councilmembers remain engaged and productive in their roles.
Vote yes on the Protecting the Checks and Balances of the ASUC Constitution referendum.
Graduate Assembly Fee — YES
Voting to pass the Graduate Assembly, or GA, Fee in this election is a no-brainer.
Though the fee would increase from its present $27.50 to $33 per year, with an additional $3 if a student is registered in summer courses, its applications are vital for graduate students. Funds generated from the fee would go directly to the GA, instead of passing through the ASUC, as is the current process with the ASUC fee. This would give the GA more of the autonomy it deserves in allocating funds for graduate students.
A third of the fee would be returned to aid, meaning much of it would go directly to supporting the financial needs of graduate students. The remaining two-thirds would go to the GA, but only $0.10 of the increase would be funneled to the assembly. The GA should be able to manage its funds directly from campus, and the updates to the fee, such as a five-year sunset clause, will allow the GA even greater independence should it decide to renew or not renew the fee.
Vote yes on the Graduate Assembly Fee referendum.
The Daily Cal Initiative
The Daily Cal’s Editorial Board is abstaining from endorsing this referendum. Please see our editor’s note for more information.
Editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board as written by the spring 2021 opinion editor, Jericho Rajninger.