My Senate Term Reflection and Looking Forward

Hello everyone,

Last night the ASUC Senate had it’s last meeting of the year. While the meeting went until 4AM for the first time in our Senate’s history, I am sad to leave this body. I’d like to thank my fellow Senators for all they have taught me and for the service they have done for the Cal Community. Thank you to:

Shahryar Abbasi

Andy Albright

Tiffany Chia

Brisa Diaz

Sydney Fang

Anthony Galace

Aviv Gilboa

Elliot Goldstein

Ju Hong

Noah Ickowitz

Joey Lam

Connor Landgraf

Safeena Mecklai

Sharanjit Sandhu

Annie Shin

Nairi Shirinian

Dan Ternan

Kevin Williams

Christine Minji Yun

To me, we have shared way more than just casual meetings on Mondays and Wednesdays. While each championing our individual projects whether it be AB540 issues, the state of our auxiliary employees, sustainability, operational excellence, the 2012 admissions policy, Lower Sproul, technology, or the slew of other projects we had on our minds, we were also faced with a year of big changes that brought us closer together. I have learned so much about each of these people and had the pleasure of seeing into their lives. Whether it was sitting in finance committee and watching senators bring their communities into speak about the amazing events, programs, projects, and issues that they were passionate about or entering spaces of communities that I wasn’t really comfortable with, my term in the ASUC Senate was defined by the 19 others that I served with. I owe so much to them for my own personal growth and for expanding my vision and understanding of the larger Cal community. Thank you all so much, I only hope that I can do our senate, all of you, and your communities justice in office next year. I was truly sad when we all parted this morning.

Review of Goals

I spent my time in Senate outreaching to student organizations. Working to extend the ability of the ASUC to serve student organizations via AAVP Grants, the Senate Contingency Fund, the Greek Opportunity Fund, and other resources, I wrote 15% for our Senate class and served well over 150 different student organizations. The best part of being in the Senate was my ability to help students accomplish what they wanted, but I also had my own goals as well:

1) Enhancing the Online Student Experience

Having served as the technological development director in the ASUC Office of the President prior to being a Senator, I wanted to bring my goals into the Senate. This year I began the process to engage the student government in the development of the CalCentral Portal, a future one-stop-shop for every student’s needs online: https://calcentral.berkeley.edu/. The portal would eventually consolidate all of our commonly used websites like Telebears, Bearfacts, Bspace, Google Apps for Education (which will replace CalMail), and other websites into one single easy to use portal. Imagine being able to register for classes on one website instead of opening up 5 different tabs to do it. This year I worked with the Cal Online Student Experience (COSE) Team, COSE Chair Joseph Lim-Effendy, and campus’ Educational Technology Services to create specific tools like a newer, more modern BSpace and to address the issue of the architecture and organizational structure of the portal. While it is still being developed and I will continue to push more students to get involved in it’s development, there is much to be done before it is officially released. As of now, there are pilot and beta programs being run in specific colleges. The project may even be released to student organizations. On the administrative level, I worked this year to push for this initiative within Operational Excellence. And while I chose to seek funding for the project via this avenue, the Operational Excellence pot of money seems to be running dry for student services initiative. Next year, I hope to work with other administrators like the Vice Provost and the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs to see if we can get funding through their departments for it’s release next year.

2) Fostering the Growth and Development of the Publications Community

While I wouldn’t consider publications to necessarily fit the mold of what I would call a typical “community,” I had the great pleasure of working with publications (journals, magazines, broadcasters) that served other communities on our campus. Whether it was working alongside Berkeley Political Review, Berkeley Poetry Review, Caliber Magazine (<3), Bare, Onyx Express, Affirm Middle Eastern Journal, Maganda, Hardboiled, or the slew of other campus publications, I have don’t think I have ever met people who were more passionate about the work they do. Editors, writers, designers, and staff members of publications work night and day to produce their work. They are out there fundraising on Sproul, asking businesses for ad contracts, and distributing their work all the time. At the beginning of the year, I was able to hold a few workshops to ensure that all publications knew how to get funding from the ASUC. I also offered all kinds of resources that I could find through campus departments. In addition, as the Senate Stakeholder Representative for OCF and Publications, I had the responsibility of adjusting all these groups to the Lower Sproul Renovation Project and Surge Process. While there was difficulty in allocating space, I only hope that all groups not just publications understand that the gravity of the surge and how we did the best we could to accommodate all groups moving from Eshleman to Hearst Gym and Hearst Annex. I also organized several townhalls with publication editors regarding the VOICE referendum and how it would affect their publications. There is still much that we can learn from each other, and while the editors this year were able to get to know each other, I hope future editors continue to leverage each other’s knowledge of the publications. If you are a member of publication at UC Berkeley, join the facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/197717653660618/

3) Increase Support for Google Apps for Education

The fight for “Gmail” was something I brought form my work as technological development director. As this director, I worked to lobby the campus CIO to switch to Gmail. But things were moving slow with campus at the time considering that Operational Excellence had just begun and it takes time for any student idea to receive buy-in. This year as a Senator, ASUC President Vishalli Loomba was able to assist the OE Productivity Suite team in choosing Google Apps for Education over Microsoft. And next year, we will begin to merge the Google Apps for Education suite over from CalMail to Gmail-like experience and server: http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/edu/ On the ground, I met with the OE productivity suite initiative manager throughout the year to discuss the decision and the switch. He began discussing his ideas to receive student buy-in for the switch. Surveys like the “name your new email system” survey were developed and I think the group has done a sufficient job at educating students on this transition. I am excited for this switch because our CalMail system isn’t meeting student needs and like all technology all this campus, it is behind the times. Cal students must be competitive in the work force after college and that means knowing new technology. We shouldn’t be using systems that are outdated and I think the productivity suite is a step in the right direction.

Other Projects

1) The Technology Referendum for 2012-2013

2) Airbears quality and expansion

3) ASUC Speaker’s Corner

4) Operational Excellence Productivity Suite Initiative

5) Operational Excellence Student Service Initiatives

6) Lower Sproul Surge Project

7) Peace not Prejudice Week

8) Southside Action Group

9) Greek Outreach Program

Committees

1) Cal Online Student Experience Team

2) Committee on Academic Opportunity

3) Committee on Intellectual Community

4) Committee on Educational Enhancement

5) Committee on Constitutional and Procedural Review

6) Ad Hoc Committee on the Transition Planning Team

7) Ad Hoc Committee on the Cal Lodge

Looking forward as your Executive Vice President

While many believed that this year was a year of change, next year will be a year of bigger changes and implementation. We will see the affects of the Transition Implementation Team, the physical beginnings of the Lower Sproul Reconstruction Project, the selection of a new ASUC Auxiliary Executive Director, the final vetting of Operational Excellence initiatives, and the selection of a new Chancellor. There is much to be done and while there are many changes to be made, these changes give students a chance to leverage these changes all in our favor. And so while I look to our past executives Vishalli Loomba, Chris Alabastro, Joey Freeman, Julia Joung, and Samar Shah for constant guidance, I also look forward to working alongside our new executives: Connor Landgraf, Shahryar Abbasi, Natalie Gavello, and Stacy Suh as we begin our terms together and as we tackle many of these issues for students. While my aim is to ease many of these transitions like the move from Eshleman to Hearst and the structural changes of the transition planning team for students, I will also focus on developing more technologies to increase student productivity, providing student groups with the resources they need to continue doing the amazing things they do as we physically move, and leveraging commercial services to benefit student life. There is much to be done, and I have already begun.

I am especially excited to welcome the 20 new ASUC Senators to the senate space and hope that they will continue the tradition of effectiveness, collaboration, and passion that the current Senate has espoused:

Jason Bellet

Emily Chen

Sadia Saifudden

Chen-Chen Huo

Mihir Deo

Megan Majd

Deejay Pepito

Sidronio Jacobo

Rafi Lurie

Emily White

Jorge Pacheco

Klein Lieu

Daley Vertiz

Ryan Kang

Tom Lee

George Kadifa

Nolan Pack

Sahana Rajasekar

Rosemary Hua

Jeff Ma

Next year’s senate will have to deal with many issues that we dealt with this year, and I have the utmost confidence that they will motivate themselves to not only learn these issues, but engage in them as well.

We will also begin the process for staff applications shortly via Google Form. The application for the Offices of the President, Executive Vice President, External Affairs Vice President, and Academic Affairs Vice President will be released at the same. I want to encourage everyone to apply to the Executive Vice President’s office because this will give you a chance to engage with businesses, student groups, and communities that you thought you would never communicate with. Given the EVP’s office responsibilities of working to develop student resources, allocating space, and heading all internal operations of the Association, it’s a chance to really make some great changes for your fellow students. The application will be released soon. I also wanted to thank my newly appointed Chief-of-Staff Oren Friedman for his drive, optimism, and passion for this office. As the staff selection process begins, he will work with you to find a place in our student government.

Thank you everyone for constantly supporting me and for making this term as a Senator amazing. I look forward to serving you as your 2012-2013 Executive Vice President.

best,

Justin Sayarath

Executive Vice President – Elect | Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC)

Senator | Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC)
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