The Cavalier Daily hosts Student Council presidential candidate forum

Diversity, fairness, student voice were heavily discussed topics throughout the forum

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The candidates for Student Council President are third-year College student Alex Cintron (left), first-year College student Jalon Daniels (middle) and third-year College student Eddie Lin (right). 

Benjamin Burke | Cavalier Daily


The Cavalier Daily hosted a Student Council presidential candidate forum Monday evening in Nau Hall in which the candidates discussed a broad range of issues, including the transparency and diversity of the Student Council and its internal operations.

The forum highlighted the platforms and initiatives of the three candidates running for Student Council President in the upcoming University-wide elections — third-year College student Alex Cintron, first-year College student Jalon Daniels and third-year College student Eddie Lin. 

The forum was moderated by Assistant Managing Editor Alexis Gravely and Arts and Entertainment Editor Thomas Roades, who previously covered Student Council for the paper’s news section. 

Cintron is the current vice president for administration of Student Council. His prior experience with Student Council includes Chair of the Representative Body and member of the Legislative Affairs Committee. Cintron’s campaign is entitled “An Open University” and focuses on making the University more “open and inclusive” for all members of the student body. Cintron is running on a combined ticket with third-year College students Sydney Bradley and Ty Zirkle, who are running for Vice President for Administration and Vice President for Organizations, respectively. 

Lin has been a College representative for Student Council since his first year at the University. 

Lin’s campaign is entitled “A Time for All Students” and focuses on the concept of “student voice” and equal representation of all students. Lin is running on a combined ticket with third-year College student Al Ahmed, who is running for Vice President for Administration. 

While Daniels has no experience with Student Council, he is involved with the University Judiciary Committee and is a dorm representative for the Honor Committee. Daniels’ platform tagline is “New Perspectives, New Approaches” and focuses on safety and increased advocacy for minority groups. Daniels is not running on a combined ticket.

The forum began with two-minute opening statements from each candidate, followed by a formal question and answer period in which each candidate was allowed one minute to provide a statement. 

A third of the questions were written by The Cavalier Daily’s news team prior to the forum, another third of the questions were submitted online from University community members prior to the forum and the final third of the questions were generated by audience members throughout the course of the forum. 

Each candidate began by speaking briefly about the priorities of their respective platforms. 

Cintron spoke about curbing rising tuition prices and using a portion of University funds to provide free feminine hygiene products to members of the University community. 

Daniels talked about prioritizing work with the University Transit Service and Safe Ride — a University operated shuttle service to transport students home when UTS buses are not running. Daniels also called for the protection of AccessUVA — a University program which provides need-based financial aid to students. 

Lin said he hopes to implement proactive recruitment within Student Council to create a Council with diverse, varying backgrounds and viewpoints. 

Throughout the forum, Cintron expressed a desire to make the University “open and inclusive to everyone”, directly relating back to his “Open University” campaign. Cintron said he wants to tackle the status-quo and difficult issues, as well as use his administration wisely to effectively pursue policy. 

Cintron said there is a need for Student Council to spend more time collaborating with advocacy, political and minority organizations in order to continue to cultivate a “more open and inclusive” University. 

Cintron also spoke briefly about dispelling the “elitist” nature of the University as his desire to ensure that every student at the University feels a sense of belonging and a belief in their role as a University community member. 

“Student government, in any capacity, requires people to actually believe in it,” Cintron said. “We cannot move forward if we’re not moving forward together.”

Lin’s platform focuses on giving more autonomy to Student Council committee chairs — who are appointed by the Student Council president and confirmed by the Representative Body. Lin also aims to increase diversity within Student Council and reach out more effectively to the student body in order to properly inform them of the function of Student Council. 

Cintron’s view of committee chairs contrasted with Lin’s, with Cintron stating that he would hold more frequent meetings to ensure that committee chairs were able to fulfill most, if not all, of the initiatives on his heavily detailed campaign platform. He expressed that if elected, he would want himself and his administration to be closely judged on what was accomplished and what was not. 

Lin expressed a desire to create a culture shift within Student Council in order to allow greater accountability within the body and the ability to connect more effectively with students. 

Furthermore, Lin wishes to create civil discourse in policymaking through recruiting diverse Student Council members, making sure that simple dialogue and a greater understanding of different viewpoints are facilitated throughout the University.

“We must make sure that their views are represented,” Lin said in regards to ensuring that students identifying with minority political backgrounds are not marginalized. 

Daniels responded to concerns about his lack of involvement with Student Council by citing his high school work involving collaboration with South Carolina government to ensure that educational policies to aid minority students were developed and his experience advocating for the inclusion of individuals with mental health disabilities. Additionally, Daniels stressed his desire to be known as a first-year who was an active voice for tangible change at the University.

“My goal is to be the first-year that advocated for realistic viewpoints, realistic change,” Daniels said. “I want to be the first-year that challenged a system instituted on precedents and the status quo.”

Daniels also talked about the importance of Student Council in reaching out more to underrepresented groups within the student body, prioritizing student safety and advocating for free speech while simultaneously educating and empowering University students to respectfully confront hateful speech. 

Additionally, Daniels said he wants to see Student Council become more aware of diversity related issues and use community based approaches to solve these issues. 

An audience member posed a question about how candidates would plan to work with DACA recipients, more commonly known as “DREAMers,” who are in the University community. 

The U.S. Department of Justice announced President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program Sept. 5. DACA allows young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. with their families as children and meet certain criteria to remain in the U.S. Congress has until March 5 to address the matter before DREAMers lose their status as DACA recipients. 

All three candidates expressed the necessity to protect DREAMers and ensure that Student Council allies with DREAMers in the University community. Lin specifically stated that he would attend protests in order to express alliance with the group. 

“I will attend a protest as an ally [of DREAMers],” Lin said. “I will make sure that DREAMers’ rights are being protected.”

Daniels called for Student Council to view DREAMers as a main priority for the Student Council and stressed the need to work with University administration to guarantee legal protection for Dreamers on Grounds. Cintron also advocated DREAMers as a top priority for Student Council.

“We have to have a more aggressive lobbying approach when it comes to protecting DREAMers,” Cintron said. “We need to be going to D.C. and Richmond more.”

A tense moment occurred when the candidates were asked about how they would be held accountable for their promises related to diversity and engaging with minority organizations. During his response, Lin brought up Cintron’s campaign platform from last year and said that Cintron did not accomplish every diversity-related initiative during his tenure as VPA. Cintron then proceeded to use the only rebuttal of the evening, admitting that some issues from his platform last year were not accomplished and requesting that the forum remain a positive and impersonal discussion. 

The final question of the evening was posed by an audience member who requested that the candidates describe the University using only one word. Daniels used “disproportionate,” Lin used “insufficient” and Cintron used “elitist.”

The forum is available to watch on The Cavalier Daily’s Facebook page. University-wide elections begin Wednesday and wrap up Friday, and students will be able to vote on the University Board of Elections website or at an on-grounds polling booth operated by Honor Committee, University Judiciary Committee and UBE. 

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