ASUC Senate discusses EECS funding, federal financial aid

Photo of the ASUC chamber sign
Hsi-Min Chan/Staff
The ASUC Senate discussed a variety of issues in its weekly Wednesday meeting.

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Amid an intense elections season, the ASUC Senate discussed budgets, personal projects and financial aid at its regular Wednesday meeting.

The meeting kicked off with public comment, where UC Berkeley freshman Brian Darnell, a campus relations intern for CalPIRG, spoke about the organization’s Beyond Plastics Campaign. He highlighted their goal of phasing out single-use plastics in Berkeley and a partnership with City Councilmember Kate Harrison. Darnell also urged senators to show their support at future City Council meetings.

Following the recent Judicial Council controversy and stressful elections, ASUC President Chaka Tellem reminded senators and officers to prioritize their mental health and treat others with decency.

“Take care of yourselves, it’ll only get better from here. I appreciate everyone and their efforts,” Tellem said during the meeting. “Just make sure that you’re prioritizing your mental health and respecting each other as people.”

Academic Affairs Vice President James Weichert discussed the possible enrollment restrictions for computer science students and emphasized the need for students to have access to a “world-class major.” Weichert added his office is working with leaders from computer science organizations to urge campus administrators to address the department’s issues with emergency funding.

The Instructional Resilience and Enhancement Fee, as well as the lack of student housing on campus and “in places not named People’s Park,” were also topics mentioned by Weichert.

Bailey Henderson, government relations director for External Affairs Vice President Riya Master, detailed upcoming efforts to advocate for more federal student aid through a “Double the Pell” week of action.

“Doubling the grant would take it to $13,000, and that’s a big boost from where it currently stands,” Henderson said during the meeting. “It goes straight into students’ pockets and it can be used for a number of things for students, such as housing, textbooks and basic needs. It’s an essential item that needs to be passed.”

Other ASUC officials gave brief updates on the ASUC’s general budget, funding policies for registered student organizations and ways for senators to access discretionary funds. Chief Technical Officer Oscar Bjorkman concluded the officer reports by discussing recent hardware work on the Berkeleytime website and the Berkeley mobile app.

The senate then moved into closed discussion, joined by Ulises Serrano, the interim director for the student government advising team at the LEAD Center, and Marney Randle, interim assistant dean and director of the center.

Upon their return, senators gave reports on their recent projects, with Senator Jason Dones recounting his office’s Strawberry Creek clean up and Senator Elif Sensurucu detailing support systems for engineering and business students.

“There’s lots of other things going on, with elections and the midterm crunch,” said Chief Financial Officer Henry Isselbacher during the meeting. “Make sure you’re taking care of yourself. You are a person first, student second and senator third.”

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