ASUC Senate condemns caste discrimination, receives reports

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The ASUC Senate’s resolution urged UC Berkeley administration to amend its anti-discrimination policy to include caste-based discrimination. The senate also introduced three bills, listened to reports covering city redistricting, and celebrated the UC’s tentative agreement that stopped a lecturer strike.

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The ASUC Senate passed a resolution against caste-based discrimination and heard updates from officials at its regular meeting Wednesday.

The Senate unanimously approved SR 21/22-029, a bill urging campus administration to address caste and perceived caste discrimination in its anti-discrimination policy. According to the resolution, the caste system is a stratified social structure originating in the Indian subcontinent that has been the basis of segregation, inequality and oppression. 

Members of lower castes who immigrate to the United States often face discrimination within diaspora communities, education and employment, added the resolution.

The introduction of the resolution by ASUC Senator Ashley Rehal follows decisions by other universities to add caste to their anti-discrimination policies, such as UC Davis. In addition to imploring campus action, the resolution creates a select committee within the ASUC to address caste discrimination.

Earlier in the meeting, Academic Affairs Vice President James Weichert applauded the University Council-American Federation of Teachers for coming to a tentative agreement with the UC administration to secure better pay and job stability for unionized lecturers.

“When we fight, we win,” Weichert said at the meeting, commending campus students’ support.

Weichert stressed the importance of continued support, noting a possible strike of student researchers in the coming weeks and spring contract negotiations between the university and the union representing academic student employees, UAW 2865.

External Affairs Vice President Riya Master later said her office had submitted a city council map to Berkeley’s decennial redistricting process. Master noted the office had worked with local communities in producing the map, which has an additional student supermajority district over the current map.

“We have so many students,” Master said at the meeting. “They should be represented across two districts.”

The broad geographic distribution of students also merits two student districts, Master added.

When the consent calendar was passed, Krish Desai and Nicholas Chiara were approved as Judicial Council justices, and Eliana Kim was approved as the next Chief Personnel Officer, or CPO. Kim will take the reins from current CPO David Zhou.

“Our office will be working closely with Eliana and (the Office of the Chief Legal Officer) for a smoother transition for the next CPO,” Zhou said during the meeting.

Also leaving her office is Chief Financial Officer Soomin Kim, who announced at the meeting that she would resign by the end of the semester. An open application process would determine her successor, Kim noted.

Three bills were introduced at the meeting. Senator Muz Ahmad introduced legislation to create a health advocacy committee, and Senator Gabbi Sharp introduced a resolution that approximately halves the current stipend reduction taken from senators who miss various senate meetings.

A bill was also introduced by Chief Legal Officer Mina Han to continue public virtual access to senate meetings, even when the senate begins to meet in person again.  All introduced bills were sent to the senate’s Governance Committee for further discussion.

Contact Gabe Classon at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter at @GabeClasson.