Hani Hussein for Senate

haniPlatforms:

1. Adjusting Financial Aid

As of right now, UC Berkeley’s financial aid office has an ineffective method of assessing the

estimated average cost of completing an academic year at UC Berkeley. The annual budget that

is currently institutionalized, is supposed to be a standardized financial aid review to create the

financial aid plan that reflects student’s’ cost of living at Cal. Unfortunately, issues such as

homeless, food insecurity, and lack of sanitation & health care services, are very much prevalent

in the lives of low-income students and students of color her as UC Berkeley. This issue needs to

be addressed and a resolution must be presented. In utilizing a standardized budget, the

University fails in considering the realistic cost of what it means to live in Berkeley for low

income students or students of color. The current process relies on students to submit adjusted

cost of attendance documentation and an extensive wait time. Low income students who rely

on financial aid as a primary means of paying their tuition are then met with the challenge of

juggling academics, multiple jobs and everyday tasks to ensure that they have the basic

necessities for survival(food and a home) and their paperwork is successfully processed. It’s an

unnecessary difficult process that puts students of color at a disadvantage in an already

overwhelming system. UC Berkeley needs to do more to meet the financial needs of students.

One way that I intend to work on this issue is working to implement measures that ensure

accurate methods are utilized when determining the cost of living in Berkeley and surrounding

areas which would increase the amount of aid that could be include in the financial aid

packages of students. This would be done by working with the office of Financial Aid to enact

policies that are accurately and frequently updated to reflect the living expenses of low-income

students. As an ASUC Senator, I will collaborate with the future Office of President to make this

something that is inclusive of all students.

 

2. Investing in Black Education

While in this position I would like to focus on the retention and academic success of the Black

community at UC Berkeley through academic support programs that would provide assistance

in navigating higher education and beyond. This platform is the highest of all of my priorities

as a senator. As higher education gets more expensive, students are met with the challenge of

trying to afford tuition, living expenses, books, food, medical expenses and everyday expenses

which is too much of a financial burden. As of February 21, 2017, The Fannie Lou Hamer Black

Resource Center has opened with a singular mission of enhancing the collegiate experience for

all Black people on and office campus. Even though we, the Black community, were granted

space, the battle has not ended; we were granted the task of managing the entire refurbishment

of the space as well as creatively strategizing ways of sourcing programmatic funds. In the

position as the Black/African Diaspora endorsed senator, I will assist in fighting for pure equity

for my community. When assessing the reason on why the current Black population bounces

between 2.3-2.8%, the common concern of prospective Black students deals with the visibility of

the community. To my greatest capabilities as senator, I will strengthen the ties between the

Black Student Union, the Black Recruitment and Retention Center, and the African American

Student Development Office to ensure the holistic matriculation of Black students

transitioning in and out of the university. This includes nurturing and fully developing all Black

and Multicultural communities spaces; making sure that not only all of their programmatic

funding needs are met, but also that staff, faculty, students, and community members see all of

our spaces, resources and opportunities, as their tools of improving the campus climate at the

university.

 

3. Mental Health Matters

One of the most prevalent issues among students of color in the UC system is having

inadequate resources, including culturally comprehensive mental health services. The

increased prevalence of issues such as depression, PTSD from macroaggressions or racism,

suicidal ideations, anxiety, eating disorders and addiction is not one that we can continue to

ignore. Although mental health might be on the forefront of college students mind, college is a

critical period for mental health. Per the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “75% of lifetime

cases of mental health conditions begin by age 24.” Having a healthy state of mental health is

critical for the success of students, academically and holistically. College students often face

multiple stressors such the pressure to do well academically, attain internship, be a competitive

applicant for graduate school and scholarships, all the while juggling one to two jobs. and these

stressors contribute to poor mental health. If left untreated, these issues can become debilitating

for students. I would like to develop programs addressed at expanding campus services such as

Counseling and Psychological Services offered through University Health Services and peer

support networks. Additionally, I would work with student-led initiatives such as

Student-to-Student Peer Counseling, You Mean More, Half of Us and the Mental Health

Coalition to address the accessibility of mental health information and campus-wide events. In

doing this work, I would work with the Office of Academic Affairs Vice President in bringing

these initiatives to fruition. In addressing mental health, it’s important to not only provide

resources and service that meet the needs of our campus community but also work towards

building a space that takes preventative measures when discussing mental health and wellness

in general. Thus, my work would focus on creating spaces thats allow my community to heal,

grow and share which would be significant in dispelling the stigma associated with mental

health. These spaces would be achieved through grant applications and collaborations with

existing organizations whether that be physically spaces such as additional meditation rooms

and more CPS satellite offices or through events such as healing circles and self care events.

This work would be essential in creating communities that foster a safe environment in raising

awareness and addressing concerns, especially in communities of color where there is a great

stigma exists on the topic of mental health.