Sydney Roberts claimed her place as the face of UC Berkeley’s student body in spring 2023, taking on the mantle from former ASUC President Chaka Tellem, both politically and personally.
Her “unprecedented” experience as Tellem’s two-term chief of staff sets Roberts up with a solid set of tools to take into her new role — but offers up for consideration how the president plans to distinguish herself from her predecessor.
Roberts’ efforts since taking office have centered around teambuilding and networking. “It’s important to me that my office is filled with individuals who are sincere in their dedication to students and an office that is diverse in background and ideology,” Roberts said in an email to The Daily Californian. Additionally, she’s been meeting with campus administrators and fellow elected officials to align her vision for her office and the campus.
She’s starting off strong. Already, her office has established a DeCal for Environmental Justice and Education, unifying campus students with local middle and elementary schools. And she has already followed through on one of her key campaign promises of growing the Multicultural Initiative Fund — a grant for cultural student organizations — from $70,000 to $100,000.
These principles of integrity, equity and community are at the heart of the work Roberts plans to do in her time as president. This is visible within her long-term goals, which she said will aim to foster a sense of belonging for students — particularly those who have been historically excluded from higher education. She plans to achieve this by allocating funding for Registered Student Organizations that foster community engagement. Her office plans to create specialized videos that educate students about underutilized resources such as the Berkeley Student Food Collective and Basic Needs Center. Furthermore, Roberts is working on organizing an exchange program between campus and historically black colleges and universities, including Howard University, Morehouse College and Spelman College.
Roberts is here to leave a legacy. She recognizes the importance of the platform provided to her, noting the position as a “privilege” that she takes seriously.
“To have a Black woman leading the number one public university in the world is a source of inspiration for younger black women to aspire to leadership roles. I want my legacy to be defined by the people I empower to continue this work after my term is over,” Roberts said in the email.
The role of the ASUC president has been largely nominal and past presidents have left the student body with a series of promises unfulfilled. While we have faith that Roberts is best equipped for the road ahead, this reservation remains top of mind for us, especially since we did not have the opportunity to sit down with her.
We remain hopeful that Roberts will deviate from tradition to transform the office and her work will amount to something more tangible.