Student Council urges U.Va. faculty to refrain from holding exams on Election Day

The resolution’s passage comes after Student Council’s Legislative Affairs Committee, College Republicans and University Democrats circulated a petition asking faculty to refrain from holding “significant exams” on Election Day

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Student Council Legislative Affairs Chair Isaac Weintz (right) and University Democrats President Mary Alice Kukoski (center) facilitate volunteers outside Observatory Hill Dining Hall last month while registering first-year students to vote.  

Jake Gold | Cavalier Daily

The Student Council Representative Body unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday at its general body meeting urging University faculty to refrain from scheduling exams on Election Day this year, which will be Tuesday, Nov. 6. The resolution was introduced by Student Council’s Legislative Affairs Committee. 

The resolution’s passage comes after the Legislative Affairs Committee partnered with College Republicans and University Democrats last month to circulate a petition to faculty members, asking they refrain from holding “significant exams” during Election Day this year. 

The organizations also worked with Indivisible Charlottesville, Charlottesville Democrats, the League of Women Voters and others groups to register approximately 425 students as they moved into the University. The registrations come ahead of the Oct. 15 deadline to register to vote prior to the midterm elections in November.

“Every year, hundreds of UVA students in several large, core lectures take tests on Election Day that seriously impede their ability to participate in the political process,” the petition reads. “Young people have consistently had lower voter turnout rates than other age groups, and exams on Election Day compound existing difficulties and drive these rates further down.”

According to the bill adopted by Student Council, more than 50 faculty members have already signed the petition so far and represent the individual commitment of each professor to refrain from holding exams on Election Day. 

Alex Cintron, a fourth-year College student and Student Council president, said the body was still trying to pressure more professors into signing the petition, but added that some professors have explicitly declined to support the effort.

“We’ve been looking to try to maybe raise more public awareness for this and maybe pressure some professors to sign on to it,” Cintron, a co-sponsor of the resolution, said following the meeting. “Because some have not, and some have expressly said, ‘I will not do it.’”

Isaac Weintz, a third-year College student and chair of the Legislative Affairs Committee, said the bill seeks to remove one of the obstacles facing students who wish to vote.  

“It’s calling on all University faculty to pledge to not hold exams on Election Day,” Weintz said. “Students face many obstacles to voting outside of the classroom, with complicated precinct setting, voter ID laws, difficulty with the voter registration process, so it’s kind of a headache. We’re just asking that University professors take these obstacles into consideration”

Weintz added that moving exam dates is a good first step toward the ultimate goal of not holding classes on Election Day.  

“This would be a big step for moving toward the Committee’s eventual goal of not having classes on Election day,” Weintz said. “We think that getting all exams cleared on Election day would be a great first step and really voice the University’s commitment toward civic engagement and toward the voting process.”

Students at the University will be able to vote for candidates to represent Virginia in the U.S. Senate — between Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine and Republican nominee Corey Stewart — and the candidates for Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District for the U.S. House of Representatives, Democratic nominee Leslie Cockburn and Republican nominee Denver Riggleman. 

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