ASUC Senate, administrators discuss return to campus, funding

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Kyle Garcia Takata/Staff
At a public meeting Wednesday, ASUC senators and campus administrators discussed the return to in-person instruction and updates on ASUC projects.

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The ASUC Senate held its first public meeting of the semester Wednesday, where senators and campus administrators discussed funding, ASUC projects and the return to in-person classes.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, University Health Services Assistant Vice Chancellor Guy Nicolette and Interim Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Oliver O’Reilly attended the meeting to make announcements and take questions.

Christ reaffirmed campus’s plan to return to in-person classes Jan. 31, no matter the class size.

“We really value face-to-face instruction,” Christ said during the meeting. “That’s what the university is all about.”

Christ also encouraged students with disabilities unable to attend in-person classes to seek out campus accommodations.

Later in her announcements, Christ addressed a pact for the university in California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget plan. Describing the budget as “extremely good,” Christ explained the state will increase funding to the university by 5% every year, in exchange for UC Berkeley, UCLA and UC San Diego reducing their out-of-state enrollment to 18%. 

Soon after, Nicolette announced the return to in-person classes may be perfectly timed to coincide with a decline in omicron variant cases. He noted how areas in the United States that suffered early outbreaks have seen a plateau or deceleration in cases, and Berkeley seems to be a “week or two” behind these areas. 

“There’s no such thing as a firm prediction on COVID,” Nicolette said during the meeting. 

After the discussion with administrators, the senate heard reports from its executive officers, beginning with ASUC President Chaka Tellem. Tellem noted a $1,500 investment to expand campus’s off-campus housing website as part of his office’s housing project.

Academic Affairs Vice President James Weichert, who was also elected chair of university affairs for the UC Student Association, voiced student concerns over the planned return to in-person instruction.

“There are a lot of things that went through this process,” Weichert said during the meeting. “The timing and the decision that campus came to really undermine student confidence in the leadership of this campus and the ability of this campus to keep students safe.” 

The remaining executive officers discussed upcoming collaborations with the Basic Needs Center and the Graduate Assembly on locating resources, as well as city commissions on housing and transportation.

Following brief updates on possible financial policy reform from ASUC Chief Financial Officer Henry Isselbacher, senators approved the consent calendar, which consisted of funding allocations for some campus organizations.

During senator announcements, Senator Amy Chen said her office has worked to make portable chargers available to students in Doe Library. Additionally, Senator Jason Dones noted his office will continue to monitor the Student Technology Fee and Senator Amanda Hill said they will continue their harm reduction project.

Contact Lance Roberts and Aditya Katewa at [email protected].