The ASUC currently sponsors seven commissions — each with a board and chair — which are tasked with promoting campus resources and being the points of contact for their respective areas of expertise.
The seven commissions consist of the Sexual Violence, Housing, Financial Wellness, Sustainability, Intimate Partner Violence, Mental Health and Diversity Affairs commissions. After a rocky start to the year, involving the temporary suspension of three commissions, all of the commissions are currently active.
“Commissions are, as defined in the bylaws, semi-autonomous bodies that serve as the spokespeople for the ASUC,” said Chief Personnel Officer Evan Cui, who oversees the operations of the various ASUC governing bodies.
Commission board members are considered part of the ASUC and are funded by the ASUC, but they meet independently of it. Commissions differ from ASUC committees, which are generally temporary and are more often closely tied to ASUC senators, according to Cui.
The rest of the ASUC is composed of elected positions, chartered programs such as SUPERB and three permanent committees whose voting members are exclusively ASUC senators.
The Sustainability, Intimate Partner Violence and Financial Wellness commissions were suspended last year for failing to meet a new requirements that were set in the fall semester. Additionally, the Mental Health and Sexual Violence commissions had late starts due to a lack of commission chairs.
“In the beginning of the school year, there were some leadership issues,” said Jon-Luc Dargenton, chair of the Sexual Violence Commission, or SVC. “Now that that’s taken care of, the Sexual Violence Commission has had the opportunity to get a lot done.”
The SVC faced issues with communication and legislation earlier in the academic year, according to Dargenton, highlighting the necessity of a board for the commission. Prior to November 2017, the SVC didn’t have official leadership, Dargenton said.
Since then, the SVC has planned two public sexual assault awareness events and has started building a relationship with Sharon Inkelas, the special faculty adviser to the chancellor on sexual violence/sexual harassment.
“We’ve done the best that we could with the commission and getting our face back on the campus map,” Dargenton said. “A lot of people, myself included, were asking for a long time, ‘Where is the sexual violence commission?’ One of our biggest goals was that question would never be asked again.”
Helen Veazey, incoming Housing Commission chair, is similarly impressed with her own commission’s growing presence on campus. The Housing Commission, which is only two years old, is in charge of communicating student housing interests at the campus, UC, state and national levels.
This year, the commission wrote a letter to Chancellor Carol Christ, laying out to her a list of “concrete asks,” which they felt were in students’ best interests. Veazey said one of her long-term goals is to have Christ commit to building at least 1,500 beds by the year 2020.
“In the past, she has said housing is her No. 1 priority,” Veazey said. “My goal for next year is to make sure that’s she’s acting on that.”
Dargenton said a commission’s general goals are to ensure that certain issues continue to be worked on as the senate turns over. This retains an “institutional memory” for issues that can’t always be dealt with in one year.
Cui described this year as a “transition year” because his role of chief personnel officer historically hadn’t existed — in fact, it was formed just last year. He plans on fostering greater community among the ASUC and the commissions.
Next year’s commission chairs are currently being interviewed and will be chosen by the end of the semester, according to Cui.
“My hope for next year is that they’ll be able to hit the ground running,” Cui said. “Things are looking very bright for the future of the commissions moving forwards.”