Associated Students of the University of California
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The Associated Students of the University of California, also known as ASUC, is the officially recognized student government of UC Berkeley. It was originally founded in 1887, and is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit unincorporated association. The ASUC controls funding for ASUC-sponsored organizations, advocates on behalf of students to solve issues on campus and in the community, engages with administrators to develop programming, increase student-organizational resources, and increase transparency.
The Preamble of the Constitution of the Associated Students of the University of California describes the purpose and mission of the ASUC:
"We, the students of the Berkeley campus of the University of California, as an autonomous constituency, of the university community, do provide by [our] Constitution a student government committed to effective student participation in all areas of student concern, that we may, through independent action and in concert with other constituencies of the university community, participate in the formation and the improvement of educational programs, protect full freedom of assembly and expression in the university community, articulate and represent the student interest in the governance of the campus, provide services and coordinate activities for students, and advance our common interests and concerns as students and as citizens, do hereby ordain and establish this Constitution."
Admission of a non-student to the football team in 1887 motivated the creation by the students of an over-all organization to authorize and control student groups using the University's name. The constitution of the Associated Students of the Colleges of Letters and Sciences of the University of California was approved on March 16, 1887, and two years later the name was shortened to the present ASUC.
Programs & Resources
The ASUC is primarily responsible for allocating student group funding through a yearly spring budgeting process. The Finance Officer evaluates each club's funding request, length of time as a sponsored organization, and history of funding in order to determine how much money each registered student organization should be allocated. The ASUC budgets in excess of $1 million each year to campus organizations, including the Bridges multicultural resource & retention center.
In addition to allocating money, the ASUC runs a number of programs for the benefit of students and student organizations on campus. These include various workshops on funding, how to get access to student spaces, financial literacy and more. The Office of the Executive Vice President's Student Organization Services department works directly with the LEAD Center to provide student groups with support and information.
The Academic Affairs Vice President's Office runs a number of scholarships for students with financial need.
The President & External Affairs Vice Presidents' offices focus much of their time on student advocacy, often relating to issues of sexual assault, campus safety, student voice, mental health, equality, and diversity.
The ASUC Constitution establishes a student government modeled after California's separation-of-powers and plural elected executive framework.
The five elected executive offices of the ASUC are, in order of precedence, the President, Executive Vice President, External Affairs Vice President, Academic Affairs Vice President, and Student Advocate. Political parties that compete in ASUC elections usually run candidates for the first four positions, while the fifth, Student Advocate, is traditionally won in a nonpartisan race by the Chief of Staff of the outgoing Student Advocate.
The President is the official representative of the ASUC and the student body at Cal. The office is charged with executing the responsibilities and authority of the ASUC, liaising with administrators and faculty, and representing the ASUC and student body both on and off campus.
The Executive Vice President (EVP) chairs all Senate meetings and is responsible for executing the administrative functions of the Senate, including: preparing the weekly agenda; reviewing all Senate bills for consistency with the ASUC Constitution and Bylaws; assigning senators to standing and ad hoc committees; and training the incoming senators each year before they take office.
The External Affairs Vice President (EAVP) represents the Berkeley campus in the University of California Student Association (UCSA), the student government that represents all 10 UC campuses.
The Academic Affairs Vice President (AAVP) is responsible for making student appointments to committees of the Berkeley division of the Academic Senate; for issuing grants to students and student groups; and for negotiating academic policy with the campus administration on behalf of the ASUC and student body.
Four political parties and one independent student community are currently represented in the ASUC Senate. They include, in order from most seats to fewest, CalSERVE (8 seats), Student Action (7 seats), SQUELCH! (3 seats), Cooperative Movement (1 seat), one independent senator from the Middle Eastern Muslim and South Asian Coalition (MEMSA), Marium Navid and one independent senator Siddhant Puri.
CalSERVE (Cal Students for Equal Rights and a Valid Education) is a progressive multicultural student coalition representing, among others, the Pilipin@, Latin@ (RAZA Caucus), black, queer, progressive API, environmental and transfer student communities at Cal. The party was founded in 1984 to protest Apartheid and pressure administrators to divest the UC financial portfolio from businesses cooperating with the Apartheid government. CalSERVE is unique among the political parties represented in the ASUC in that, each year, leaders of the coalition manage issue-based campaigns unrelated to the ASUC in order to galvanize student support for progressive issues, including: passing Proposition 30 and defeating Proposition 32 (2012); disaggregating the "Asian-American" racial/ethnic category on admissions documents; registering students to vote during election years; and creating gender-neutral restrooms in campus buildings. John Pérez, the current Speaker of the California Assembly and only the second openly gay speaker of any state legislature in the country, was a member of CalSERVE while a student at Cal, as were Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). CalSERVE is often represented by the colors lime green, white and black. The current Executive Vice President (Justin Kong), and External Affairs Vice President (Caitlin Quinn) are affiliated with CalSERVE.
The 2014-2015 CalSERVE senators are: Haley Broder, Baltazar Dasalla, Yordanos Dejen, Juan Manuel Heredia, Melissa Hsu, Lavanya Jawaharlal, Austin Pritzkat (CalSERVE & Cooperative Movement Senator), & King Xiong
Student Action was formed in 1995 as a political party, but by 2004 had expanded into a coalition of three constituent parties – Student Action, APPLE Engineering (representing the Engineering community at Cal) and UNITE Greek (representing the social Greek community). Since its founding, Student Action has been the dominant party in the ASUC, consistently winning majorities in the ASUC Senate and most or all of the Executive offices most years. The current President (Pavan Upadhyayula) is affiliated with Student Action. Student Action is represented by the colors royal blue and white.
The 2014-2015 Student Action senators are: Eric Gabrielli, Hannah Frankl, Ori Herschmann, Paul Lee, Bo Nguyen, Tanay Nandgaonkar, & Vinay Ramesh
Cooperative Movement Party
Founded in 2008, the Cooperative Movement Party (Coop) consistently runs, and elects, one student for the ASUC Senate every year. The Cooperative Movement Party represents the Berkeley Student Cooperative and each of the houses in the Cooperative. Coop senators traditionally support strong environmental sustainability initiatives, social justice, and transparency in the way the ASUC conducts its business. The party is usually represented by the colors forest green and white. This year, the Cooperative Movement Party Senator is Austin Pritzkat, who is also affiliated with CalSERVE
SQUELCH! traditionally runs "joke" slates for the executive offices and Senate each year (in order to encourage the ASUC to take itself less seriously), in addition to one or two serious candidates. The "serious" Senate candidate almost always wins a seat by a large margin because of the ASUC's ranked-preference voting system and the breadth of support SQUELCH! enjoys throughout diverse campus communities, though SQUELCH!-backed executive candidates have a much harder time getting elected. In 2012, SQUELCH! senator Noah Ickowitz ran for ASUC president and was endorsed by the Daily Californian, but placed third, behind the Student Action and CalSERVE candidates. SQUELCH! has no official party colors, but is usually represented by golden yellow in ASUC elections.
The 2014-2015 SQUELCH senators are: Grant Genske, Madison Gordon, & Dree Kavoussi.
Other parties that compete or have competed in ASUC elections, but are not currently represented in the Senate, are Students for a Democratic University, Defend Affirmative Action Party and Berkeley College Republicans.
Students for a Democratic University (SDU), founded in 2012 in response to the Occupy Movement, supports radical democratization of the way the university and the ASUC are run. In 2012, though no SDU candidate was able to win a seat in the Senate, candidate Isaac Kreisman came within five places – unusual and impressive for a first-year political party.
Defend Affirmative Action Party (DAAP) is the political party affiliated with BAMN (By Any Means Necessary), a leftist organization formed to oppose the abolition of affirmative action in state hiring and university admissions in 1995-6. Though DAAP runs full Senate and Executive slates every year, the party has never won one of the Executive offices. DAAP uses the colors red, white and black on its elections flyers, posters and literature.
In past years, the Berkeley College Republicans (BCR), the official student Republican Party club at Cal, have run candidates for the Senate and Executive offices, but have not in at least the last three. Rather than run their own candidates, BCR has chosen instead to endorse their members who run as candidates with other parties, including Nils Gilbertson (Student Action) and Steven Johnson (Student Action) in 2012. Though neither won a seat in the 2012 election, Gilbertson became a senator in January 2013 upon the resignation of another Student Action senator. Nils placed 21st in the 2012 election, and so was automatically called up to the senate upon his predecessor's resignation.
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