ASUC Store Operations Board Meeting Abruptly Ends Over Negotiations

Photo: ASUC senators address the Store Operations Board at its meeting Wednesday night.
Kevin Hahn/Photo
ASUC senators address the Store Operations Board at its meeting Wednesday night.

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Store Operations Board meeting fails to resolve lease contract negotiations

The ASUC Store Operations Board meeting on March 9 failed to settle lease negotiation agreements with Bears Lair food court vendors after Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard left the meeting early.

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Photo: ASUC senators address the Store Operations Board at its meeting Tuesday night.   

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Correction Appended

A meeting of the ASUC Store Operations Board came to an abrupt end Tuesday night over a motion to sign a new lease with a current vendor in The Bear's Lair Food Court.

The meeting failed to meet quorum after UC Berkeley Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard, a member of the board, left the meeting in order to block a motion made by ASUC Executive Vice President Tu Tran to end negotiations with a potential Subway franchisee and retain Taqueria El Tacontento in the food court. The motion also would have steered negotiations with Saigon Eats from the Taqueria's space to an adjacent space currently occupied by Healthy Heavenly Foods.

"I cannot be a part of what we are trying to attempt to do here," Poullard said as he exited the meeting. "I can't do it and I will not do it. So I'm leaving so we will not have a quorum in this room and you cannot take a vote. ... This is not good business practice."

Though the length of the meeting was not unprecedented, Board Chair Nish Rajan said in an e-mail that he believes the meeting ended the way it did because of exhaustion among board members. The meeting was scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. and ended around 9:30 p.m.

"Three hours is a long time for a board meeting and folks may not have had the proper ability to entertain a major motion at that time," Rajan said in the e-mail.

He added that a few board members left the meeting before 9 p.m. due to other commitments.

The ASUC Auxiliary will continue individual negotiations with Saigon Eats and Subway following a 8-1 vote that took place earlier in the meeting.

Taqueria owner Arnoldo Marquez did not agree to new lease terms-which would have doubled his rent-by a Jan. 11 deadline because he said he would not be able to afford it. But he said at the meeting Tuesday that he is now willing to agree to the terms.

The board voted by a 4-3 margin, with one abstention, on Jan. 26 to enter into lease negotiations with Saigon Eats and Subway for spaces in the food court.

In May 2009, the operations board forgave The Daily Californian a portion of its rent for the office it leases. As part of the agreement, a non-political student member of the board sits on The Daily Californian's Board of Operations, which has no control over the paper's editorial content.

The ASUC Judicial Council issued a non-binding advisory opinion Sunday elaborating on the circumstances under which the board would be in violation of the 1998 Commercial Activities Agreement, which established the board and the RFP process.

Some ASUC senators said at the meeting that the board does not adequately represent the views of the student body. The senate recently unanimously passed a resolution requesting that the board reconsider the ongoing negotiations for the two spaces.

"I feel like the decisions that are being made by the Store Operations Board right now perpetuate what has already been happening and what we've been opposed to," CalSERVE Senator Viola Tang said to the board.

Yishi Zuo, a former senator and current student member of the board who sits on The Daily Californian's Board of Operations, said the Store Operations Board is in a "frustrating" position because once it decides on a direction in determining prospective vendors for the food court, it still faces criticism.

"The bureaucracy at Berkeley is a big part of it," Zuo said. "Once we go down a certain path, it's hard to change direction."


Correction: Friday, March 12, 2010
An earlier version of this article failed to note that Yishi Zuo is a member of The Daily Californian's Board of Operations per a May 2009 agreement between the ASUC Store Operations Board and The Daily Californian

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Contact Nick Myers at [email protected]

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