ASUC Senate addresses Student Technology Fund amid enrollment freeze

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Owen Mark/Staff
The ASUC is negotiating with campus over student fees, while campus anticipates that the enrollment freeze will leave an anticipated “$20 million hole” in its budget.

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The ASUC Senate discussed information security and privacy on campus, as well as the Student Technology Fund Referendum, in its Wednesday meeting.

The Student Technology Fund, or STF, Referendum is an item of immediate consideration on the Senate’s agenda. The fund was voted into place by the ASUC in 2014, implementing a $51 per semester fee, which expired spring 2021. It funded programs including Microsoft Word, Adobe Creative Cloud and other campus services such as the Student Help Desk.

“The referendum was up for renewal last spring,” said ASUC Senator Jason Dones. “Although 82% of students supported renewal of the fund, voter turnout did not meet the minimum threshold of 20% of students for it to be passed.”

Despite efforts by campus administration to put together a new, more expensive referendum, the enrollment freeze will leave an anticipated $100 million loss in revenue, according to Dones. The ASUC is negotiating with administration to reduce its fee and fund technology that enhances students’ educational experience.

“We’re working to ensure students have the tech they need … in a way that is more collaborative with campus administration,” Dones said. “We’re going to keep fighting to make sure the fee ends up in a place that is best for students.”

Members of the campus Information Security and Privacy offices gave a presentation on the increasing importance of information security.

The offices offer various services that protect user information, and they discussed how students can contribute to a more secure network while using their devices on campus.

“We’re trying to implement autonomy privacy — choices that are made around data,” said campus privacy officer Scott Seaborn at the meeting. “We want to allow students to choose what the (campus) does with their data.”

Seaborn, alongside chief information security officer Allison Henry and information security policy manager Julie Goldstein, encouraged students to know their rights of “notice and consent,” and to review the terms of any program professors request they use before accepting them.

ASUC executive officials briefly spoke about upcoming events sponsored by their individual offices. ASUC President Chaka Tellem discussed the Environmental Justice and Education Project Module, executed in partnership with the ASUC’s Sustainability Commission.

Mari Wong, senior advisor for equity and inclusion in the ASUC Student Union, addressed how the enrollment freeze will affect ASUC budget priorities. The Office of Academic Affairs is in meetings with UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor of Finance Rosemarie Rae and the Academic Planning Council to decide what will be protected from budget cuts next year when UC Berkeley enrolls fewer students than expected.

“We are in the process of collecting ideas and priorities on behalf of students for the next budget cycle,” said Academic Affairs Vice President James Weichert. “We are working to diffuse the impact of cuts so one unit does not bear all of the burden.”

Contact Anoushka Jasuja at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @anoushkajasuja.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the enrollment freeze would cause a $20 million hole in the campus budget. In fact, campus is already working to reconcile a $20 million gap, and the enrollment freeze would result in a projected $100 million loss in revenue.