ASUC Senate discusses fallout of enrollment, mask mandate decisions

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Caroline Lobel/Staff
In a meeting Wednesday, ASUC offices presented various updates on topics including the campus mask mandate, potential enrollment cuts and work-study accessibility for international students.

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Mask mandates and enrollment cuts, among many other topics, were up for discussion at the ASUC Senate’s meeting Wednesday.

In light of potentially catastrophic cuts to student enrollment, ASUC Executive Affairs Vice President Riya Master said it was important for students to get involved in local and state affairs and lobby state legislators.

Kyra Abrams, chief of staff for the ASUC Academic Affairs Vice President, also alleged the lawsuit was not completely focused on gentrification and the sizable impacts UC Berkeley has on the surrounding community.

“We’re in a really good place with the city right now, but recognize your part in gentrification in a world-class university in the Bay Area with a housing crisis,” Master said during the meeting. “It’s not a zero-sum game, we can work on solutions with the city together, but we as students have to remain cognizant of what our impact on others is.”

Chief Financial Officer Henry Isselbacher pointed out the effects of reduced enrollment on student fees and organizations that rely on them, including many clubs and the ASUC. He added that ongoing conversations with campus administrators made the lack of funding clear.

Abrams also criticized campus’s decision to lift its mask mandate and said current transmission data relies on full masking among students.

Abrams then outlined efforts with the Berkeley Faculty Association and a branch of United Auto Workers to maintain the requirement longer, and she stressed the need for students to protect each other if cases rise again.

As of press time, however, campus has extended the existing mandate through March 6.

Toward the end of the meeting, members of the senate passed two resolutions with little debate while referring several other resolutions to its University and External Affairs committee.

The first passed resolution expressed solidarity with students with disabilities amid the lack of hybrid courses while the second called on different major departments and the Berkeley International Office to make work-study programs more accessible to international students.

During the senators’ concluding comments, ASUC Senator Amanda Hill said their office had begun distributing fentanyl test strips and naloxone as part of their harm reduction campaign. Hill’s office, along with the Disabled Students Commission, will also release a survey on hybrid access to gather data for future advocacy.

Aditya Katewa is a student government reporter. Contact him at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter at @adkatewa1.