For Graduate Assembly delegates, defunding UCPD and supporting graduate students amid the COVID-19 pandemic are priorities, as discussed with UC Berkeley administration at the assembly’s meeting Thursday.
Chancellor Carol Christ addressed the delegates at the meeting, focusing on their concerns about UCPD, economic burdens and barriers that international students face.
“We’re all in the same storm but we’re not in the same boat,” Christ said at the meeting. “Many people have incredible challenges.”
In response to a question about why UCPD is hiring, Christ said UC Berkeley is constrained by state dispatcher laws in how it can reduce its police force. She added, however, that UCPD is currently at “historical minimum” levels of staffing.
Christ also addressed concerns regarding a 4% increase in rent next year at campus’s University Village in Albany, a change she attributed to costs of improving Wi-Fi and increased compensation for employees.
She recommended that Village residents who will have trouble affording the increased rent contact financial aid.
Students, including Graduate Assembly President Luis Tenorio, shared their concerns with Christ about barriers for international students, including the possibility of restricting GSI appointments to domestic students.
“I understand there are some risks (in hiring international GSIs),” Tenorio said during the meeting. “For me, the biggest thing is continuity and what it means for those students.”
After speaking with Christ, the Graduate Assembly approved fall funding for grad meetings, events and resources, as well as for grants and publications, and then the delegates moved on to resolutions.
The first resolution the assembly discussed allocates money that is currently unused because of COVID-19, including for travel, delegate parties and food, toward a “job bank” that can be used to hire graduate students for Graduate Assembly jobs such as data collection.
The bill, which passed, also increased the pay of several executive positions and committee members to reflect workload and addressed student groups’ increased costs because of the pandemic.
Finally, delegates passed a resolution in support of Proposition 15, which would tax commercial and industrial properties valued at more than $3 million at their market values to increase funding for local governments and schools.
Resolution author and campus graduate student Jordan Burns said the proposition is especially important for Berkeley residents, as AC Transit is considering cutting service lines. According to Burns, Prop. 15 would direct $25 million to AC Transit and $80 million to the city governments of Oakland and Berkeley combined.
“California is in financial crisis right now,” Burns said. “This is one of the most just and equitable ways that we have at our disposal right now to avoid these cuts (to services and programs).”
At the end of the meeting, the delegates voted to delay approving their advocacy agenda for the year. It will be voted on at their next meeting Nov. 5.