University Remembrance Garden to be unveiled Nov. 10

Birkenthal resigns as Representative Body chair, Brasacchio fills position


Class of 2017 alumnus Daniel McGovern announced the Nov. 10 opening of the University Remembrance Garden at the Student Council meeting Tuesday evening.

Thomas Roades | Cavalier Daily

Class of 2017 alumnus Daniel McGovern gave a presentation on the soon-to-be unveiled University Remembrance Garden at Student Council’s weekly Tuesday meeting. Construction on the garden started this past summer and will be located in the courtyard between Newcomb Hall and Clemons Library. It will be unveiled this Friday, Nov. 10. 

Student Council also approved five new contracted independent organizations during their legislative session and announced that second-year College student Ellie Brasacchio would replace fourth-year College student David Birkenthal as chair of the Representative Body. 

“Last night we had a special rep session in which David Birkenthal stepped down, and I took his position,” Brasacchio said. “I am very excited to work with all of you.”

Birkenthal had served as chair since last semester. 

Student Council leaders said his resignation was for personal reasons, but did not elaborate. Birkenthal did not return a request for comment Tuesday evening. 

Sarah Kenny, a fourth-year College student and Student Council President, welcomed Brasacchio to the position and welcomed Brasacchio to the Executive Board. 

“We are highly confident that [Ellie] will do a fantastic job,” she said. 

McGovern’s presentation kicked off the meeting. He noted not many students have been made aware of the Remembrance Garden project, but felt it was important to let them know. The garden, he said, is designed to memorialize students who have died during their time at the University. 

“This is a place that’s built to preserve their memory,” McGovern said. 

He described the long-lived project that led up to the upcoming unveiling, beginning in 2004, when students in the Architecture School first sketched out designs. His presentation showed the various designs proposed over the years, though he noted they all centered around the same basic feature — a dark wall or surface on which students can write messages. 

“It’s a blank wall, meant to be written on,” McGovern said. “Everyone who’s in here — and everyone who walks by it — we should take ownership of it.”

Still, given the garden’s purpose, he hoped students would be mindful of the type of messages appropriate for the space. 

“I think the intention was to keep it free of the more everyday things you see written on sidewalks, like advertisements,” McGovern said.  

McGovern said the project was renewed in earnest after the death of University student Hannah Graham in 2014. That tragedy, he said, shed light on the fact that the University has few intimate spaces for small gatherings and quiet contemplation.

“We realized that we don’t have place that’s devoted to this purpose,” he said. 

Kenny praised McGovern’s efforts on the project later in the meeting. 

“This [project] is over [the course of] a decade, he’s stuck with it and his resilience is impressive,” she said. 

During the Nov. 7 legislative session, representatives voted on a bill to approve five new CIOs — the Virginia Journal of Bioethics, Anesthesiology Interest Group, Graduate Society of Women Engineers, Hackers at U.Va. and Cville Solar Project. 

Ty Zirkle, a third-year College student and Vice President for Organizations, introduced the CIOs and the bill. 

“There are five organizations on the floor tonight, all in one bill,” he said. 

Due to several absences among the Representative Body, the organization did not have a quorum at first and thus took a brief recess to assign proxies for absent members.

Following the recess, however, the CIOs were all approved with no votes against the bill — though there were several abstentions, since proxy voters must abstain.

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