Graduate Assembly Independence

In 2018, after a year spent studying the issue, the GA Governance Workgroup determined that U.C. Berkeley graduate students will be better served by the GA as an independent organization separate from, but working in close solidarity with, the ASUC. Read on to learn more about the historical context for GA independence.

What is the ASUC?

The Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) is the only officially recognized student association at U.C. Berkeley by administrators. It is an independent 501(c)3 non profit organization separate from University governance. Due to the structure of the ASUC, all officers and senators are currently undergraduate students.

What is the GA?

The Graduate Assembly (GA) was founded in 1969 as a subsidiary body of the ASUC to advise the ASUC on matters pertaining to graduate and professional students. Although the GA functions as an independent graduate student government, it is technically part of the ASUC. This is unique in the UC system – all other campuses have independent undergraduate and graduate student governments. The mission of the GA is to improve the lives of graduate students and to foster a vibrant, inclusive graduate student community. 

What are the driving factors for GA independence?

Despite its mission to improve the lives of graduate and professional students, the GA is limited in its current capacity to advocate on behalf of the graduate student body due to the fact that it is not currently recognized as an independent graduate student association:

  • Representation: Because of its structure, the ASUC precludes graduate and professional students from participating. Therefore, although the ASUC claims to represent all Berkeley students, it primarily advocates for the needs and interests of the undergraduate student body.
  • Student Fees: Graduate students are currently not able to exercise an independent voice regarding the student fees they are assessed, which are often used for the sole benefit of undergraduate students. 
  • Legal Counsel: The GA is not able to secure independent financial and legal counsel, which is necessary to effectively represent and negotiate on behalf of graduate students.
  • Resources: The GA is unable to utilize Student Union facilities without first gaining ASUC permission, resulting in barriers to graduate student access.

What has been done so far?

  • The GA compiled a standing policy document from meeting minutes and resolutions related to the relationship between the GA and the ASUC over the last 20 years. This document chronicles several efforts towards separation which have all arisen from the same basic issues.
  • In 2017, the GA passed Resolution 1710A to form a Governance Workgroup – a collection of GA delegates and exec board members working to explore the possibility, benefits, and potential cost of the GA legally separating from the ASUC.
  • In April 2018, the Governance Workgroup explored the risks and opportunities associated with a formal separation from the ASUC. The workgroup concluded that U.C. Berkeley graduate students will be better served by the GA as an organization separate from, but working in close solidarity with, the ASUC.
  • On April 5, 2018, the Delegate Assembly unanimously voted to begin the process of separation from the ASUC, per Resolution 1804C, in order to become independent since cohesion has resulted in disenfranchisement.
  • In April 2018, the Governance Workgroup published a GA Split One-Pager summarizing the motivation for and steps leading towards GA independence from the ASUC. 
  • In 2019, the Graduate Student Association (GSA), a 501c3 nonprofit, was formed to take over the functions of the GA upon dissolution of the GA. 
  • A poll circulated by the GA found that 96% of graduate students supported GA independence from the ASUC.
  • In April 2020, the GA asked the graduate student body to express its opinion on GA independence. Graduate student turnout increased 487%, and 97% of those voting supported GA independence. See Press Release.

GA Resolutions about Independence

  • Resolution 1710A: Resolution to Direct the GA Executive Board to Take All Necessary Actions to Expeditiously and Effectively Sever Financial and Legal Ties between the ASUC and GA
  • Resolution 1712A: Resolution to clarify and expand the interpretation of the mandate of the Graduate Assembly Governance Working Group and establish a Graduate Assembly Re-Structuring Working Group.
  • Resolution 1804C: Resolution to Establish an Independent Graduate Assembly
  • Resolution 1805A: Resolution to extend the GA Governance workgroup for the 2018-2019 academic year and amend the 2018-2019 Budget 
  • Resolution 1811E: Resolution in support of and directed actions for the continued pursuit to establish an independent Graduate Assembly   
  • Resolution 1912A: Resolution to Refer a Graduate and Professional Student Only Binding Proposition in Support of GA Independence and Separation from the ASUC on the Spring 2020 Election Ballot
  • Resolution 2004D: Resolution to extend the GA Governance Workgroup for the 2020-2021 academic year


Daily Cal Coverage

4/10/2020 – Independence Referendum Results
2/11/20 Graduate Assembly must secede from ASUC for a better future
4/6/18 Graduate Assembly unanimously votes to secede from ASUC after months of debate
3/18/18 ASUC states support for Graduate Assembly separation at special town hall meeting
3/1/18 Graduate Assembly introduces formal resolution to secede from ASUC
2/21/18 UC Berkeley Graduate Assembly considers leaving ASUC after half century of tension
2/2/18 UC Berkeley Graduate Assembly talks housing, grants, secession from ASUC at 1st spring meeting