During the last ASUC Senate meeting of the semester Wednesday, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Stephen Sutton, UCPD Chief Margo Bennett and Tom Halvorsen, The New York Times education manager, spoke about current initiatives, and four of the seven expected ASUC commission chairs provided official reports.
The meeting began with a discussion about the UC Berkeley Division of Student Affairs’ engagements with the campus strategic plan and Long Range Development Plan. Sutton also said the division is working to find permanent spaces for several communities, including the Latinx community, the disabled students’ community and Native American students.
“I’d like our Student Affairs services and programs … to be as top-notch from our student service perspective, as we are for our academics,” Sutton said during the meeting. “I am very much committed to making sure we — as the Division of Student Affairs — are focused on how we can get better with the things that we do.”
UCPD has received funding to hire additional campus community service officers, or CSOs, and wants to increase the number of CSOs from 60 to 120 students, according to Bennett. She added that UCPD plans to coordinate with students eligible for the campus work-study program.
After Bennett’s speech, Halvorsen discussed the benefits of the Senate’s potential partnership with The New York Times. The contract would provide the campus with “student only” free access to the Times articles, according to Halvorsen.
“We want this to be one of the most successful programs that you’ve ever initiated,” Halvorsen said during the meeting. “All eyes are going to be on this partnership as it develops.”
ASUC Senator Milton Zerman, however, expressed concerns regarding the alleged “political bias” of the Times. He said because UC Berkeley is a public university, he feels it is important to have “apolitical news.”
UC Berkeley students are “toward the top” in the number of student subscribers to the Times, according to Halvorsen. If the contract is passed, the ASUC will directly subsidize $120,273 for three years of the Times subscriptions, while the Graduate Assembly will contribute $40,007.20.
The Senate also passed a bill condemning Kiwibot for its “low compensation of Colombian workers” at the meeting, after previously being tabled. ASUC Senator Romario, who authored the resolution, said this bill is a “major victory” and a “tangible and possible outlet to hold a company accountable as an ASUC Senator.” The ASUC will continue to monitor Kiwibot’s labor and wage practices, according to the bill.
“Kiwibots have always had a powerful mission of making food delivery more accessible — our intention was to never stop the company,” Romario said in an email. “Our goal was to improve the lives of the students in Medellín as well as their relationship with our campus and I am happy to say we were successful in officially initiating those conversations.”
The senate then heard from ASUC commission chairs, who have allegedly only been sparsely attending ASUC meetings. According to ASUC Financial Wellness Commission chair Maria Sanders, the Financial Wellness Commission has secured a space to implement a financial wellness library, which will be open on the first day of instruction in the spring semester.