A post-pandemic campus and a controversial ASUC bill regarding campus policing were among many topics discussed during Wednesday’s weekly ASUC meeting.
The meeting opened with public comments from campus freshman Brian Darnell. Darnell, a campus relations intern for CalPIRG, provided an update about its efforts to phase out single-use plastics in the city of Berkeley. He added that CalPIRG has been working closely with City Councilmember Kate Harrison and has met with council members to push for this ordinance.
“Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing issues of our generation,” Darnell said at the meeting. “We have been gathering support from the community, from students, small businesses and local vendors who support this ban. With the help of the ASUC, we would have all the support we need to ensure this gets passed.”
During executive reports, Academic Affairs Vice President, or AAVP, James Weichert highlighted the future of campus education in post-pandemic circumstances.
Changes to academic policies enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic could be revised after UC Berkeley moves beyond the pandemic, Weichert said. Among the changes were grading policies and increased access to online and remote learning.
However, Weichert noted that one problem with making decisions on these policies is a lack of communication between students and instructors in regard to what the next semester should look like.
“It’ll take a campuswide conversation to open up about these issues,” Weichert said at the meeting.
Later, an intense discussion erupted over SR 22-061, also known as the “Ensuring Campus Safety by Improving Safety Training and Safety Measures in UCPD” bill.
The legislation, primarily sponsored by ASUC Senator Jerry Xu, highlights Southside’s high crime rates and advocates for changes to be made to how UCPD operates in an effort to keep students safer.
AAVP Chief of Staff and chair of the UC Berkeley Black Student Union Kyra Abrams started the meeting’s discussion over SR 22-061. Despite reallocating some UCPD funding for external initiatives, Abrams said she opposes the bill because it does not go far enough, noting she wants to see UCPD completely abolished.
“There are times when you need to make decisions based on what you supported two years ago,” Abrams said, referring to how some in the ASUC supported defunding the police back in 2020. “If you were supporting us two years ago and you are still supporting us now, then you would not be supporting a bill that allows UCPD to still exist.”
Xu responded with confusion over the controversy with his bill. According to Xu, he added paragraphs to the bill that Abrams and Senator Gabbi Sharp wanted before sending the revised version to them for approval. Xu said he never heard anything in response to the revised resolution.
In response to this statement, Sharp sent a message in the Zoom chat expressing dismay at how Xu took her and Abrams’ lack of response as approval of the revised bill. She stated that she felt Xu did not understand her during previous meetings they had over the bill.
Senator Osirus Polachart also voiced his opposition to the bill.
“This bill demonizes crime, and it demonizes homeless people and People’s Park,” Polachart alleged at the meeting. “This is not the language we want coming out of the ASUC.”
The resolution will face a final decision in the senate. If it is passed, it will move to the ASUC Executive Committee for a final vote.
Lance Roberts is a student government reporter. Contact him at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter at @lance_roberts.