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To ban or not to ban ASUC political parties

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APRIL 26, 2023

ASUC president Chaka Tellem has issued a presidential veto against a resolution passed by the ASUC Senate that aimed to ban political parties and coalitions from participating in any future ASUC elections.

This veto — the first since 2016 — is met with criticism as well as praise from the student body. While certain individuals believe that this is an overstep in Tellem’s jurisdiction, others claim that this veto successfully protects students’ rights to collective action and assembly. The debate remains controversial, as the veto will be addressed again at the ASUC Senate meeting Wednesday.

Political parties at UC Berkeley have historically taken an integral role in the ASUC. Several candidates run independently for their positions, but many, such as ElevateCal, still continue to make up large groups in current elections. The resolution would hypothetically remove all party affiliations and have every candidate run on their own.

The passage of this resolution is significant for the trajectory of ASUC politics moving forward, and the veto is equally notable. Regardless of the final outcome, we believe that political parties at UC Berkeley will never be eliminated, resolution or not. They are inevitable parts of the ASUC system that would be hard to eradicate permanently.

But the conversation regarding the preservation or removal of political parties strays away from the actual issue at hand: the lack of accessibility in and transparency of the ASUC. 

Ample amounts of candidates this year ran under a transparency platform in one way or another. However, of the roster of incoming candidates, several are former chiefs of staff and others have worked in some other ASUC office previously. Only a handful will be brand new to the institution, and no transfer students won any seats in the senate apart from the transfer student representative. 

Breaking into the ASUC as an independent, grassroots candidate is not an easy feat. Political parties have a benefit that independent candidates lack, and that is a foundation to discover resources and information on how to run a successful campaign. Party or no party, we urge the ASUC to prioritize providing valuable support to those who don’t have a developed background in student government or are historically underrepresented in the ASUC. 

These political parties have their pros and cons, and people have their respective opinions about the validity of them. It is within Tellem’s power to veto, as well as the Senate’s to overturn the veto. But, more importantly, we believe that the ASUC Senate should not attempt to overturn the veto, as the banning of these political parties is not a sustainable solution to deep-rooted issues, such as underrepresentation and accessibility, in the ASUC. 

We encourage the ASUC to continuously practice inclusivity. There is a reason why the banning of political parties has stirred up discourse, and it’s evident that some candidates may not have the backing that others do. We hope that future elections will welcome and allow people from all walks of life to have an opportunity to voice their platforms and step into a position of student government. Whether this can occur with a party or not, it is what the ASUC and its candidates need most.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board as written by the spring 2023 opinion editor, Ashley Tsai. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter.

APRIL 26, 2023