Jess Yang for Senate

jess
Platforms:

Diversifying the UC Berkeley Service Community

Like hundreds of other students, the service community is my home. Like any home, however,

the community is not perfect. While service organizations tend to serve diverse populations,

their volunteer bases tend to be more homogeneous in nature. Organizations need diverse

volunteer bases to better understand how to serve diverse communities. However, students of

color are often not given the resources or information necessary to participate in the mainstream

service organizations. Through my experience working with diverse communities through the

Suitcase Clinic, I propose three approaches to increasing diversity. First, I will work through the

ASUC to create a grant or stipend for first generation students, undocumented students, and

Pell Grant recipients who work in service to ease the large upfront costs of participating in

service organizations. Second, I will increase access to and awareness of ASUC financial

services to allow Registered Student Organizations to switch from reimbursement systems to an

ASUC-sponsored credit card system. This will remove the need to front money for events and

supplies, a barrier to access for low-income students. Finally, I will facilitate interaction between

communities of color and the service community through the Student Leaders in Service

Retreat. By increasing networking opportunities and educating service leaders about the

importance of diversity in their organizations, methods of recruiting can be improved.

 

Increasing Student Awareness and Involvement in Local Politics

Under this administration, students cannot afford to be apolitical. As transient citizens of

Berkeley, we as students often do not feel connected to the greater community. In addition, the

procedures and workings of local politics are not transparent, and information about City Council

meetings and the rights of citizens is not widely known. As the Vice President of Community

Advocacy in the Progressive Student Association, I worked on creating and disseminating our

voter guide and registering students to vote. This experience has taught me that distributing

information to students is the first step to encouraging community involvement. During my

tenure as ASUC senator, I will create a local politics component of the ASUC Newsletter to

combat this information deficit. In the newsletter, I will include information about upcoming city

council meetings, as well as basic procedural information about lobbying in local government.

This Newsletter component will also be sent to service leaders to distribute to the members of

their organizations. I will also work to empower student organizations to lobby at City Council for

the communities they represent. By alerting organizations when items pertinent to them will be

discussed by the City Council, I will encourage student groups to utilize their lobbying power.

Third, I will work to increase ASUC presence at City Council meetings and in local committees.

The ASUC needs to lead by example, knowing that systemic change begins on the local level.

 

Working with Housing Commission to prevent student homelessness

As Berkeley’s housing crisis continues to worsen, more and more students are denied on-
campus housing and are forced to contend with the Berkeley housing market. Decreases in

financial aid, exorbitant monthly rent, and abusive landlords are just a few problems that these

students face. Students, especially those of low-income backgrounds, often feel alone and

unsupported by the university in what is usually their first experience navigating the housing

market. This lack of support during a difficult process is a leading cause of student housing

insecurity. Through working with and speaking to people experiencing homelessness, I have

learned that recently homeless people often have the same grievances: greedy landlords,

abusive roommates, and/or rising rent prices forced them to give up their living space. As an

ASUC senator, I will work with the ASUC Housing Commission to increase student access to

city resources such as the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board or the East Bay Community Law

center. The Rent Stabilization Board ought to regularly host Office Hours style meetings on

campus so students facing housing issues can learn what options and resources are available

to them. Additionally, the ASUC ought to have a permanent presence at Rent Stabilization

Board meetings. As an ASUC Senator, I will work to play the role, but through the year I will

establish this as a permanent position in the ASUC. I will also build on the work of previous

senators, continuing to pressure the university to create truly affordable housing for low-income

students and cooperate with the Co-ops when the University does not have the capacity to

construct on its own.