The ASUC Senate deliberated on a resolution that would establish a BART affordability working group at its meeting Wednesday evening, ultimately passing it with a tight 10-9 vote.
Student Action Senator Andre Luu drafted Senate Resolution 15/16-012 to establish a working group composed of students, administrators and City Council members aimed at making public transportation on BART more affordable and accessible to students. The working group would research various economic models that could lead to the implementation of a BART student discount, part of Luu’s original senate campaign platform.
As drafted, the working group would include one designee from the external affairs vice president’s office, UC Berkeley’s transportation planner and its director of parking and transportation, a graduate student and City Councilmembers Kriss Worthington and Jesse Arreguin. An ASUC senator would be appointed chair of the working group by the executive vice president with consent from the senate.
During Monday’s Governance and Internal Affairs Committee meeting, however, ASUC Director of Local Affairs Matthew Lewis expressed concerns about the working group’s composition.
According to him, the office of the EAVP has “extensive” experience with transportation and should therefore lead the working group. In addition, Lewis expressed his desire to involve campus administration in the project as early on as possible.
While the office of the EAVP had originally supported the resolution, it revoked its co-sponsorship the week before it was sent to the Governance and Internal Affairs Committee for review. The reason, Lewis said, was because Luu allegedly did not sufficiently consider the officers’ concerns and was unwilling to make their suggested amendments.
The committee ultimately voted to pass the resolution onto the senate floor with no recommendation after a 3-3 vote Monday evening.
During Wednesday’s senate meeting, Luu had the opportunity to present his resolution to the entire senate class and to hear Lewis’ proposed amendment. He explained that although he consistently attempted to reach out to the office of the EAVP, its staff was “unresponsive” and did not clearly explain specific concerns until the resolution was brought to committee.
Student Action Senator Will Morrow proposed his own amendment — adding an additional EAVP designee and an at-large student appointee to the working group — in order to address the concerns brought up on the senate floor, which passed after some debate.
Some senators advocated sending the resolution back to committees for further review before voting on the amended resolution because they said its topic technically falls under the purview of the university and External Affairs Committee as well.
The motion failed, however, and a subsequent vote passed the resolution as amended by Morrow. According to Lewis, the office of the EAVP has reached out to ASUC President Yordanos Dejen requesting that she veto the resolution as passed.
While Independent Senator Sumayyah Din emphasized the importance of EAVP representation moving forward, she said that vetoing the resolution altogether would “not be productive.”
“This might not be the exact direction they want this working group to head towards, but I hope they will understand that sometimes compromise is necessary,” Luu said.