Student Council passes resolutions to support DREAMers, bill to fulfill BSA demands

Concerned students share thoughts on legislation in public comment period

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Sarah Kenney, fourth-year College student and Student Council president, spoke before the vote of bill FB17-05.

Alexa Patel | Cavalier Daily

Student Council passed two resolutions supporting DREAMers On Grounds and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients at the University during their Tuesday meeting — FR17-04 and FR17-06, respectively.

Representatives also approved FB17-05 — a bill creating a committee to report on changing the University’s curriculum to address the history of white supremacy in Charlottesville, in accordance with Black Student Alliance’s list of demands.

Prior to the legislative session in which the bill and resolutions were passed, the council hosted a public comment period. Three students spoke, each in favor of the passage of the two resolutions supporting DACA recipients.

Among them was fourth-year Curry student Paola Sánchez Valdez, the founder of DREAMers On Grounds and a DACA recipient herself.

“I want you all to think about these resolutions, and I want you to know that I was a DACA recipient, and I am only here because of DACA,” she said.

Third-year College student Liya Abseno also shared her support for DREAMers at the University.

“I just wanted to speak to show solidarity with [the University] DREAMers,” she said. “Don’t let anyone make you forget what you’re fighting for, and the strength you’ve had to make it this far.”

Third-year College student Hannah Borja, a member of DREAMers On Grounds, echoed Abseno’s sentiments and said she had worked with Student Council to produce the two resolutions.

“We appreciate the affirmations today on the basis that they support our mission to educate and advocate,” Borja said.

After the public comment period, David Birkenthal, fourth-year College student and Chair of the Representative Body, opened the legislative session with FR17-04. Ian Ware, third-year College student and representative, introduced the resolution, which he co-sponsored.

The resolution affirmed Student Council’s support for DREAMers On Grounds’ planned occupation of Garrett Hall Wednesday.

“Student Council wishes to offer its unwavering support to the DREAMers On Grounds,” the bill read.

Ware, also stated his opposition to the termination of DACA and his support for those affected.

“This repeal of DACA is literally just an extension of white supremacy in this country,” he said. “I’d love to give my unwavering support to DREAMers On Grounds.”

The resolution passed unopposed, with no votes against and just two abstentions.

Next, Birkenthal introduced FB17-05 — a bill to create an ad-hoc committee on adding education about the local history of white supremacy to University curriculum. He said the bill would set out specific expectations for Student Council’s work on addressing the issue, which was fifth on BSA’s list of demands.

“This is a resolution to make sure that we have deadlines, and we have representatives involved as well,” he said.

Sarah Kenny, fourth-year College student and Student Council president, also spoke before the vote, addressing students’ positions on the bill.

“There is overwhelming support from the student body,” she said.

The second piece of legislation, like the first, passed unanimously save for two abstentions.

Finally, Alex Cintron, third-year College student and vice president for administration,  introduced FR17-06 — a resolution affirming support for DACA recipients on Grounds and calling for their protection.

Cintron called on the body to pass the resolution without opposition, as they had the previous two.

“I believe this rep body has the moral decency to not only pass this legislation but to pass it unanimously,” he said.

Cintron also said he hoped the Student Council members would take additional steps to help protect DACA recipients, beyond voting to pass the resolutions.

“Voting for the bill is nothing if you don’t do anything to help those who will be affected by the termination of DACA,” Cintron said.

Cintron’s belief in the representative body proved well-founded, as the resolution passed unanimously — save for the two proxy abstentions. 

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