The Student Advocate’s Office aims to transform the processes at UC Berkeley to be truly equitable for students. We take problematic trends we see in our casework and mobilize groups to create transformative change for students across campus. Alongside casework, policy work is a cornerstone of our office’s services. Below is just a sample of the policy projects our respective divisions have been working on in the past year.
The SAO Exposure project with GBO and NSS will aim to partner with NSS and more specifically, the GBO team, in order to revise content related to students’ rights and information regarding our office in their bCourses module. Furthermore, this project aims to communicate with GBO and NSS regarding potential avenues for SAO outreach during GBO week.
Looking at SAO case trends from Fall 2021 and Spring 2022, students at UC Berkeley who need DSP accommodations often run into time-sensitive issues that necessitate prompt action from DSP. This project aims to expand upon the existing CS 161 Extension Request Form to streamline any assignment extension requests for extenuating circumstances, including DSP-related exam concerns. We hope to implement this revised form in classes that are prerequisite classes for upper division classes, have a high volume of students, or have been the subject of many DSP-related cases in the past. The target classes include several in the College of Engineering, as well as CS 170, Math 1A-B, Biology 1A-B, and Chemistry 1A-B.
The REPAIR Taskforce will be focused on spearheading all efforts to urge the timely implementation of REPAIR within the CSC as well as produce a model for a restorative pathway for academic misconduct violations.
- ResHall RCD Research + Observation: Oversee the research and observation of members in ResHall’s RCD and report back model to team.
- Faculty Needs Assessment → Letter to CSC: Work with Academic’s Department Head Outreach to survey faculty interest in restorative pathways for academic misconduct; garner support and present to CSC.
- Restorative Pathway for Academic Misconduct Model: Create a comprehensive model for a REPAIR-adjacent process for academic misconduct, informed by research into ResHall’s RCD model as well as faculty needs assessment.
This policy project seeks to develop a better understanding of appeals within conduct processes at UC Berkeley. Conduct caseworkers have often run into issues when attempting to advise clients with their appeal letters. Information published online is minimal and appeals are often unique to the case they relate to. This project would result in another resource guide that outlined the appeal process both within the Center for Student Conduct and the Residential Conduct Process. This project is also interested in developing a guide for clients who undergo a sanctions-only hearing. These processes are similarly unique and require greater research in order for our division to better support our client.
Winter Break Housing (WBH) is a yearly program that SAO’s Financial Aid division has historically led. WBH houses students in need of emergency housing during the four week winter break. Dorms close down during Winter Break, so SAO works to house students who do not have housing options outside of the dorms. This program is made possible through close collaboration with UCB Residence Affairs, the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office, and the Basic Needs Center. However, WBH does not address general student concerns related to housing. 20-30% of Berkeley’s 40k+ students have difficulty finding housing every semester—WBH supports housing to 20-30 students for four weeks. Note UCLA: they guarantee up to “four years of housing” (the first of all UCs, starting fall 2022) for incoming freshmen, and their winter break program is intended to be a social “stay-through”, in contrast to Berkeley’s housing priority for freshmen and Winter Break emergency housing.
In the past couple of years, housing has been an educational barrier for some and a large worry for many. The GSI strike last semester highlighted the logistical and financial difficulty involved with securing housing in Berkeley—a UAW report found that the average graduate student worker is “extremely rent-burdened”, spending more than 52% of their income on rent (UAW 2022). Casework within the financial aid department has shown that the scarcity and cost of housing have impacted non-resident students, working students, and students coming from lower income families. On the flip side, housing development efforts made by UCB have been fervently opposed by Berkeley community members and other organizations (People’s Park, Walnut). The goal of this project is to highlight where Berkeley housing stands in comparison to other state schools. We will do comparative research and compare housing climate amongst similar California universities, ask professors, admin, and students about campus housing, and make a policy brief about the state of UCB housing at the end of the semester.
This policy project hopes to give presentations on our office and what we do to student organizations on and off campus. Last year we created flyers to about 20 Greek Houses. This semester we hope to expand to co-ops as well as on-campus housing. We hope to create a student survivor rights focused presentation with Bears that Care to present to Greek Life, co-ops, and other student-led organizations. In order to do so, this policy project will meet with on-campus bodies to navigate what accommodations survivors can access as students. These accommodations include academic accommodations, housing accommodations, work accommodations, and more. We hope to publish a google form on our website where these organizations can schedule a presentation, and we (SAO) will have an established team to give these presentations.
Policy Suggestion Form
If you have questions, comments, or concerns about SAO’s policy, please feel free to contact the External Chief of Staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Updated: March 13, 2023