The ASUC Senate convened over video call Wednesday to discuss campus housing development projects and ASUC responses to COVID-19, colloquially known as the coronavirus.
At the start of the meeting, Peter Gorman, housing project manager at UC Berkeley Capital Strategies, came to discuss current housing initiatives on campus. He pointed out that UC Berkeley has the lowest percentage of beds for its student body out of all UC campuses.
“The shortage of available and affordable housing for Berkeley’s students and untenured ladder faculty is a matter of urgent concern,” Gorman said at the meeting.
The Housing Master Plan Task Force, convened by Chancellor Carol Christ in 2016, reported the goal of creating 8,800 new beds for students in campus housing in 2017.
Using three methods to expedite construction – campus construction, donor development and public-private partnerships – there has been an increase of 6,005 beds.
As an additional effort, campus announced plans in May 2018 to “redevelop and revitalize” People’s Park, according to the UC Berkeley Capital Strategies website. Gorman is part of the team in charge of pushing this initiative forward.
ASUC Senator Nicole Anyanwu expressed concerns over the project’s affordability, citing the higher prices of newly constructed and partially privately owned university housing, including Panoramic Berkeley and Garden Village apartments. Gorman replied that they are still working on finding a compromise.
ASUC External Affairs Vice President Varsha Sarveshwar then announced her plans to attend a UC Board of Regents meeting next week, where it will consider a new type of tuition hike for the next five years.
Throughout the meeting, several ASUC senators talked about their ongoing work to address COVID-19 concerns. Anyanwu and ASUC Senator Rocky Gerosa spoke of their efforts to help accommodate international students during spring break.
ASUC Executive Vice President Andy Theocharous also said he is working on a long-term response to COVID-19 for international students, pitching the idea of reducing the unit fees for taking online summer classes.
“Students’ health is the top priority,” Theocharous said.