Members of the ASUC are working on a project to provide academic accommodations for English learner students at UC Berkeley.
The project proposes that English learner students have 125% extra timing for examinations and the option of a reduced course load, needing 13 units less than other students by the time of graduation, according to ASUC Disabled Students Commission co-chair Khodamorad Moradpour.
Surveys and testimonials are being collected from campus students to demonstrate the need for additional accommodations for English learner students, according to Moradpour, who first initiated the project last year. The testimonials will be presented to the Academic Senate next semester for consideration.
“The changes will create a more equitable learning environment, empowering ESL students to further succeed in their classes and maximize their education,” said ASUC legal executive Maxim Miller in an email.
Moradpour said in an email he initiated the project after being denied supplementary resources in his classes despite being an English learner student. He added that the project has garnered the support of campus political science professor Christopher Ansell, the ASUC Office of the President’s legal affairs department as well as ASUC Senators Muz Ahmad and Elif Sensurucu.
Moradpour noted that English learner students encounter difficulties with academic coursework due to having to go through “the process of translation in their head,” which is something that most American-born students do not “have to deal with.”
Additionally, Miller said campus resources for English learner students are insufficient in accounting for the intersectional academic barriers that immigrant students, international students and students raised in a non-English speaking household face. Despite some existing campus resources, such as classes intended for English learner students, such students lack the accommodations they need to fully engage in their classes, Miller alleged in the email.
“We want to provide students with the help they need to fully participate in their classes and get the most out of their education,” Miller said. “Students can better connect with one another in their academic efforts, having an equal platform to explore the class material.”
If the project is successful and such policies are implemented on campus, UC Berkeley will become the first college to allow accommodations for English learner students, Moradpour said in an email.
Miller noted in the email that the English instruction community has responded positively to the project so far. Students have been working collaboratively to collect a wide range of testimonials that have made the language-based academic barriers on campus more transparent, according to Miller.
“We are here to listen and help,” Miller said in the email. “The more feedback we receive the more we can help to empower students and make Cal’s academic environment more equitable.”
Contact Lauren Cho at [email protected].