Student Council calls for Fairfax to resign, investigations into accusations of sexual assault

Student Council additionally passes resolution in support of ADA accessibility on the Lawn

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Fourth-year College representative Lukas Pietrzak co-sponsored a bill at the meeting in support of building upon the recent constriction of ramps on the Lawn to make the area more ADA accessible. 

Geremia Di Maro | Cavalier Daily

Student Council’s Representative Body passed a resolution last Tuesday calling on Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D-Va.) to resign and calling for an investigation into the accusations of sexual assault against Fairfax. 

In the past two weeks, two women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault against Fairfax, both of which he has denied. These allegations come on the heels of another Virginia political scandal in which a photo emerged from the medical school yearbook of Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) depicting one person wearing blackface and another dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Virginia attorney general Mark Herring also recently admitted to wearing blackface during his time as a University student.

“These accusations are treated seriously and with utmost significance due to their nature, the credibility of these survivors of sexual assault is valid, and multiple corroborations have supported these survivors,” the resolution states. 

Second-year College student Matthew Foreman, encouraged the Representative Body to vote in favor of the legislation, citing the Student Council’s passage of a resolution the previous week which calls on Northam to resign from office. 

“We approved a resolution demanding the resignation of Gov. Northam, and this one is along the same veins,” Foreman said. “Two women have come forward recently accusing [Fairfax] of sexual assault. It’s a very serious issue. I think we should pass this resolution to show support of those women.”

The Representative Body also voted unanimously to pass a resolution in support of the Native American community at the University. The resolution is a direct response to an image that surfaced on Instagram and Twitter Feb. 3 showing multiple men from the Kappa Sigma fraternity wearing Native American attire during their bid day events, and it calls for a formal apology from the fraternity. 

The bill was co-sponsored by Foreman and third-year College student Ellie Brasacchio, the Chair of the Student Council Representative Body. 

“Kappa Sigma, as part of their bid day, dressed up in Native American costumes,” Foreman said. “That’s clearly wrong, right, marginalizing a group’s culture, reducing it to just a costume is wrong in every case. I’m sure we’re all familiar with what’s been surfacing with blackface, with the Corks & Curls yearbook, with people using other cultures as a costume, and that’s wrong in every case.”

The Washington Post reported Feb. 3 that the name of the University’s official yearbook — Corks & Curls — is a reference to the burned cork used to blacken faces in minstrelsy and the curly Afro wigs used in costumes.

The resolution states, “The Student Council Representative Body recognizes the privilege that the Greek community possesses, and has possessed historically, and will stand up when this community’s members see fit to put down marginalized and underrepresented groups.” 

Student Council also voted unanimously to pass a resolution in support of an accessible Academical Village. The resolution recognized the recent addition of wheelchair ramps on the Lawn as a fundamental step in making the Academical Village more accessible to students and visitors with mobility disabilities and called for the creation of an Americans with Disabilities Act compliant Lawn Room. 

The bill was co-sponsored by fourth-year College representative Lukas Pietrzak and third-year College representative Ally Kammerman. Pietrzak said Student Council’s Buildings and Grounds Committee has been working with Housing Residence and Life and Facilities Management during the past several months regarding ADA accessibility in the area of the Lawn and for Lawn rooms in particular. 

Kammerman said making residential spaces and classrooms on the Lawn ADA accessible would be a positive step in addition to the improvements which have already been made with the construction of ramps in recent months. 

“When I was a first-year, I broke my foot and was on crutches and a knee scooter for about two months, and I wasn't able to get to two classes I had in the Pavillions so much so that they moved both of my classes,” Kammerman said. “I was really upset about that, and I felt bad about making my peers move because we were first years, we were so excited about taking this class in a Pavillion.” 

The resolution affirms Student Council’s support for the creation of an accessible lawn room and expresses its commitment to continue making the Academical Village a more accessible space. 

Correction: This article previously misidentified fourth-year College representative Lukas Pietrzak as a third-year College representative, and has been updated to reflect his accurate year.

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