Excerpts from interviews with the Student Council presidential candidates
Below are excerpts from interviews The Cavalier Daily conducted with this year’s Student Council presidential candidates — third-year College student Alex Cintron, first-year College student Jalon Daniels and third-year College student Eddie Lin. You can links to their full interviews below. The excerpts in this compilation have been edited for length and clarity.
The Cavalier Daily will hold with the candidates Monday evening from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Nau Hall 101. Students can submit questions for the candidates via . The event is open to students and will also be live-streamed on The Cavalier Daily’s .
1. Why do you want to be Student Council president?
Alex Cintron: I've been a member of Student Council since my first semester my first year, starting off in Legislative Affairs. I've seen the organization as it is and as it has been the past two-and-a-half years and I wanted to basically change it … I think Student Council is at a time in which it can actually pursue certain policy objectives, and I think running as president, I want to accomplish those policies. I don't want necessarily to just say "an open University" or "openness, collaboration, action," just because they're wonderful words — I actually mean it. I want to make sure Student Council is actually standing side-by-side with the organizations and the students it intends to serve. We need to work collaboratively with other student organizations because Student Council is not alone. And with good collaboration, we can pursue policies that are more open and inclusive for students.
Jalon Daniels: I want to be Student Council president because I believe that I can offer the Student Council and the student body an alternative perspective and approach to ... many key issues. And I also think that as I have the necessary skills. And being an effective leader, I think that my policies that I have [in my] platform are realistic … [and] will in fact improve the quality of life for University of Virginia students and will allow the Student Council to have a larger impact on the community outside of U.Va. and within U.Va.
Eddie Lin: I want to run for president because I believe Student Council is an organization that has a lot of potential and being able to address student needs and student issues, and it has a special place in my university. Student Council is supposed to be the representative of all students … it needs to do a far better job at informing students, letting people know about what's going on ... and letting people know about what tools they can get from Student Council. Most of my friends are not involved in Student Council … even the people who are really involved in a lot of CIOs, they don't know what Student Council can do for them.
2. What experiences at U.Va. have informed your decision to run for president, and how have these experiences prepared you to lead Student Council?
Cintron:I think viewing the past two administrations, I've seen what works and what doesn't work, and I have an idea for how the organization should operate, and I want to actually put that operation, put that vision into practice. That is, a Student Council that is policy-specific. If you look at the platform, everything is very specific intentionally so that you know what you would be getting if you were to vote for me, and our ticket … I'm running on a ticket with Sydney [Bradley] and Ty [Zirkle]. Oftentimes, we've been frustrated and dissatisfied. The question becomes, if you're so dissatisfied, why do you stay? … But we're here, and we want to take it to the next level. We want to spend the next year serving students, pursuing policies that are good for the general student body.
Daniels:I believe that being a part of a very stringent [group] of organizations at U.Va. have allowed me to understand the need for policies, understand the need for rules. I was part of the University Judiciary Committee where I served as a judge for first-years … I also, this year, am working for the educational outreach of the Honor committee as a representative for the dorm … I think that educating the general public and a large amount of people around the dorm organization has also allowed me to showcase my knowledge of institutions and the need for rules. I also have the opportunity to be involved in Best Buddies as the “Computer” Buddy … Best Buddies is a national program … aimed [at] helping or just interacting [with] children and young adults or just adults in general with intellectual or physical disabilities … I’m in an acapella group, the Hullabahoos, [and] I had the opportunity to be in the University of Virginia Marching Band … [and] the University Singers. And I also had the opportunity, this past semester, to be one of the representatives in helping educate the public on Parkinson’s Disease … Already having been leading and dealing with other members of Virginia institutions and also just my ability to diversify myself, different aspects have allowed me to [be] qualified [for these] positions because it tells that I know how to reach out to other people, how to interact with people that are not like them, and to be sympathetic of all peoples, all people and our desires, what they think we should do.
Lin:I think one very important thing is institutional knowledge. I've been a part of Student Council since my first year … Just being a student here, I feel like being able to interact with different groups, being able to have a lot of friends from everywhere, I think that really is giving me the strong perspective that I needed … I think as a representative, I've tried … to do everything in my capacity to boost student voice, whether it's through promoting resources such as Speak Up U.Va … I think if you look at my record as a student council representative, I have a consistency of letting people know what's going on, connecting people towards administrators and being able to navigate around a system to be able to create positive change in an organization. And but again I don't think me being rep is enough because I'm just one rep, but I think being able to serve as president, it's not about like the title or anything, it's not about power, it's about how do we use all the institutional responsibilities as a president who has a huge responsibility in setting the culture of the organization, setting the structure of the organization, setting the policies of the organization.
3. What do you think of Student Council’s response to the white nationalist demonstrations of Aug. 11 and 12? Is there anything you would have done differently? What did you think of the University administration’s response?
Cintron:I've been in Student Council my entire time … if we want to point specific, we can look at Aug. 11 and 12, and how [the University Police Department] has failed for the past year … [or] whether it was when I emailed [University Police] Chief [Michael] Gibson on Aug. 11 and he gave me a dismissive response and said, 'We'll let you know if anything comes up,' and me trying to get information to disseminate to the student body, or whether it's been UPD breaking up Lawn parties of primarily minority students. These are some things that I want to see … Personally as a person of color … as someone who knows these communities, who's talked to these people, who's been directly affected, I want to make sure their voices are heard, I want to make sure they're represented in some capacity and I want to operate as Student Council president as a way that makes it so that we're listening, and we're acting, and we're working towards specific policy goals.
Daniels: I think that the Student Council did what was deemed necessary by the general public. They denounced the white nationalists, they had, they communicated a platform of equality and community to the world, and that was very much necessary in the wake of such tragic and horrifying events. And I think the Student Council had to go beyond just making statements, I think that one way the Student Council could have remedied the situation just a little better is by going to school and talking to students around the Charlottesville, Albemarle, and just telling students that the Student Council is advocating for the safety of all students, and that they do not tolerate and the University of Virginia does not tolerate the actions that took place on Aug. 11 and 12. I think that these events, in the wake of what happened a couple months later with tuition increases, will and had calls for a drop in the representation of minority students in the future. And I think that the Student Council has the necessary means to have the charge to deal with the situation more so from a community standpoint. I know that the current VPA reached out to the University Police Department and asked what they could do, but there comes a point where you can’t just sit behind a computer and ask what you can do, but do what is necessary, and what was necessary is them reaching out to the community and offering help in any way they could.
Lin: Student Council’s response to Aug. 11 and 12 was cautious hesitancy. I think once an event of this magnitude happens, a lot of groups are really looking forward to Student Council as a representative of all students. How are you able to come out of this event stronger as a University? A lot of minorities including myself were just shocked … Administration and UPD did not handle it as well as it could … [The administration] had prior knowledge, there’s actually emails of prior knowledge of it [Aug. 11] happening, and they still allowed it to happen. I would make sure to work with UPD and work with administration to see how do you solve this problem…It's important for Student Council to listen to all groups but also once you gather strong perspectives, it's not up to us to be hesitant. It’s also not up to us to just wait to see what happens. I think it's important to go to every student group, contact as many leaders from all CIO’S as possible to see how they feel towards a solution and … towards what's going on and then really like try to facilitate, try to call forth a facilitation like working group or working group sessions connecting a lot of student groups to administrators.
4. If elected, you would be succeeding Sarah Kenny as Student Council president. Are there specific initiatives from her term that you would continue, and are there specific things that you would change?
Cintron:The certain things that I would continue that have been underneath the Sarah Kenny administration is that currently our Safety and Wellness Committee is working on the LiveSafe app, which is something that will basically mitigate any of the issues that we see with reporting as constrained by the Clery Act … The LiveSafe app we would hope to promote and continue to promote as an administration. Also, Sarah Kenny has done a great job in trying to make this [an] organization that people feel like they belong in it, at least most of the people in the Student Council, and for an in-trip as a social connection between people.
First of all — the way that our cabinet actually operates … I would like to make it so that we have a single chair with vice chairs for the support system, and also to meet weekly with our cabinet to ensure that, one, we have a strong and personal relationship and that we are pursuing the policy objectives week-by-week, and I'm getting updates to ensure that everything that's in my platform which are cabinet specific — all the policies are — are being accomplished throughout the week. Again, this campaign is focused on accomplishing all the policy objectives that we set for ourselves in the platform.
Daniels: I have enormous respect for Sarah Kenny … One of the things I want to build upon is the bill that she sponsored along with a Commerce representative Evelyn Wang, to support maintaining the first-year book. I think that this book should be extended to not just first-years, but second-years, third-years and fourth-years … If I were to be elected, I will be advocating for increased representation of transfer students in every sector of the U.Va. community. I think that a book, especially the first year book, for transfer students, would allow transfer students to learn about Student Council … Our goal is to help them and make sure they assimilate to university culture. I also would build upon the U.Va. Student Community Food Bank. I think that the initiative should be more so of a collaborative effort between the Madison House and the Student Council … Another thing that I’ll improve upon is the use of the theatrics in the public sphere. And that’s very controversial — bodies of the Student Council must not rely on symbolism and theatrics when dealing with events that shape our community. I think that Student Council must … demand that they have a presence, demand that they be able to help the community as a whole, not just stand behind a podium and make videos. I think that that is very theatrical … I don’t think it’s organic, it’s not authentic and I think it’s a very, very, very artificial way to deal with the problems.
Lin: I think Sarah Kenny has done … a good job as president. I think in some ways [the] organization can improve. I've been on Student Council since my first year, and I think there have been some good improvements. I think the media side of Student Council — with the Facebook and the livestream everything in attempting to inform people like a social media presence — I think is a really strong social media presence, and I definitely want to be able to keep up that social media presence. I would make sure a lot of these issues surrounding our University, whether tuition increases or the status of our undocumented students, I don't want to downplay these issues at all. I think Sarah Kenney has addressed them in the past, and I think it's good that she makes statements supporting it, but I think more important than statements supporting them is how do we work with our activist groups such as DREAMers on Grounds and with Charlottesville city groups who are fighting for affordable housing … Lastly … I would put more pressure on the administration … I'm willing to fight for you students.
5. Last fall Student Council the list of demands created by the Black Student Alliance and other student groups. Which of the BSA demands do you find has gone most unaddressed, and how would you work to address it?
Cintron: There are a couple [demands] that I feel as if Student Council hasn’t necessarily addressed itself … First of all, faculty hiring — the fact that there's not a diverse enough faculty. We need to have … student input in the faculty hiring process so that we can have organizations like [Black Student Alliance], [Latinx Student Alliance] and [Minority Rights Coalition] involved in the selection process and we can see professors who look like us, who are Black or Latinx or Asian-American … One thing that we really want to do specifically is target and work with organizations in the admissions office to try to increase the amount of merit-based scholarships that are given out to students, which would positively affect low income students and people of color and give those students an extra incentive to come here because other universities have better packages for those students and that's why they're not enrolling here. It's not that we're not admitting enough — and maybe we aren't — it's that they're not enrolling and that's because we're not giving them an incentive to come here. Perhaps, increasing the amount of merit-based scholarships is something we can do to address their demands.
Daniels: So, I think that one way for the Student Council to very truly endorse the BSA demands is to reach out to the community and see how the community reacts to the demands. I think that, when we look at the demands, I think demand one is removal of the Confederate plaques on the Rotunda, I think that’s appropriate. I think that the Student Council should always advocate for the removal of certain signs of hatred. I think that that is the relevant authority of the Student Council. I think that the Lawn being declared a residential space was necessary. And to also ensure in the future that there’s proper legal actions taken upon those who defile the Lawn and do what they did on Aug. 11 and 12. I think that Student Council must be aware of their relevant authority. I think that some things, such as hiring connect staff to make its worth proportional to the number of students. I think that’s a great idea, in theory - but personally, I think that the lack of minority student representation stems from a larger issue, and more so a larger issue in general, and as an institution. I think that one way that the Student Council can change and that will help these demands go forth is just by advocating that the University of Virginia to pay all employees a living wage. An evaluation of black and Hispanic lives is very structural in the fact that the University of Virginia does not pay a living wage, just showcases how we deny groups of people access to lots of good, and I think that, we must advocate for that, and so that’s one way that the Student Council can just make sure that the BSA [demands] are valid.
Lin: It's something I feel that even though we put a lot of pressure on administration because of these March to Reclaim our Grounds demands … No systematic policies have changed out of it. And I think a problem with that is because when we do student activism at our University, sometimes when Student Council wants to take the lead on solving the March to Reclaim our Grounds demands, again we don't want to work with outside groups.
Why don't you [Adminstration] hire more minority faculty? Why don't you hire more minority students? — which were probably the least addressed out of the March to Reclaim our Grounds demands … Applications went down for both black and international students. Why has U.Va. not responded to that? Why [has] U.Va. not created a concrete action plan and being able to ensure that we get more minority students. And again if administration … if they're hesitant about it, I'll put pressure on them. I'll make sure that we work with our groups. It shows that students do care about it, whether that's through rallies, whether that's through disruptions, anything is in the realm of possibility. That's something that I would definitely push for.
6. If another event similar to the Unite the Right rally were to occur, how do you think you would prepare for and respond to it as Student Council president?
Cintron: One thing that we want to do is create a student safety advisory board that will have oversight and will be able to criticize publicly and collaborate with other student organizations, particularly minority organizations and so forth, and political organizations — something that will critically analyze UPD. What we want to do is demand from UPD what exactly they're going to do. What is their process for another Unite the Right rally? What are the plans? Are you going to have people there? Are you going to protect the students? Student Council will be there if they fail, we will be there helping student organizations do whatever they need to do in order to make sure their discontent is heard, and we want to provide any support we can to make sure that students feel safe during any Unite the Right rally again. We want to hold UPD accountable and we want to make sure students are safe and that we're representing them effectively. If people are upset, and students are upset, it would be my job to make sure that those voices are heard.
Daniels: I think that there should be a plan that’ll protect the students, protect the community, and the University as a whole. I think that one way … that there could be improvement to what occurred Aug. 11 and 12 is the creation of a board of students that work with the University Police Department about, I think, inefficiencies in the police department, the lack of transparency and the delay in communication. I think that communication is key in protecting students and protecting our University through the University Police Department. I think that this potential board of students is not something that is too outlandish, not realistic or idealistic — many universities already have board of students that have been charged with the goal that University Police Department, as a representative of the school, are maintaining the true ethics of the job and making sure that our community is safe. So I think that enhancement, I think that University Police Department is necessary and key. I also think that the Student Council must advocate for more involvement in the community as a whole. I know that if I were elected one way I would like to reach out is to endorse and not just say “endorsed,” but support groups of students that want to protest. I think the Student Council must be vocal and they must support people who to protest inequality and hate.
Lin: I think, firstly, it's important to contact all the students, especially the minority organizations that are probably the most affected by these sorts of events, letting them know … I would ask Student Council to really just reach out to Charlottesville residents, whether that's like community engagement and our City Council — groups that really do a lot of community service around the area to show that U.Va. students are here for you because at the end the day, U.Va. students were hurt, but I think our whole city, our whole community was broken during that time … I want to make sure that as soon as we hear about it, we gather groups in a room together, and we connect them towards administration, towards police. And we let them know like last time what you did was wrong, and this time we want to set protocols to be able to make sure things are different.
7. If elected, what would be your top priority, and how you would go about realistically addressing it?
Cintron: The way I would restructure the cabinet would make it so nothing is mutually exclusive, that every cabinet position is actually pursuing their policies independently and collaboratively with me and other groups. I think some of the really big, top-ticket items that we really want to put to the forefront [are] four things, honestly. [First is] the UPD thing, making sure there is a student safety advisory board … that UPD is being held accountable in a systemic way that we are including organizations like BSA, MRC and so forth. Another thing we want to do is, again, increase the amount of merit-based scholarships here at this University to ensure we are a University that can at least be attractive to students of color … We want to have an aggressive lobbying effort in both Richmond and [Washington,] D.C. and an aggressive lobbying presence because we have not done that in this past year … And I want to make sure that Student Council itself uses its weight as a political entity to advocate for students in the best and most appropriate way to ensure that students’ voices are being heard … As it currently stands, the way that it works is that the respective schools create the tuition proposals and then they'll invite student groups to come look at it … I would say that we want to completely flip that over and make it so that students are involved in the tuition creation proposal process … What we want to do in Richmond and in [Washington,] D.C. is to make sure tuition is not increasing. We want to stop it as much as possible because it affects students, primarily students of color, students of low socioeconomic status, students from rural communities and out-of-state students.
Daniels: I think I would advocate for more authentic and organic approach in dealing with these problems. I think the Student Council must move away from being a revelatory agent in regards to promising equity or inclusion and move more so into being the open one in communication between smaller groups that are punished instead or still in need. And work more so in helping those small CIOs and organizations have access to upper deck, Patricia Lampkin and all these other vice presidents. I think that Student Council has the authority, has the necessary influence to make sure that the point of these smaller CIOs that are principle to helping minority students. The Student Council has the ability to make their voices more so heard ... I think that the Student Council must not try to interfere with the work of these organizations or try to change [them], but rather just make sure that their voices will be heard … [Also] that they advocate for the protection of AccessUVA funding and support groups…. I think that’ll be the main thing that I’ll be doing … dealing with problems with diversity.
Lin: Our top priority is student voice everywhere. That's a part of our platform. And again, it's all about student voice. It’s all about being able to get more voices in the room, and we don't see this as some abstract thing where people are like “I really like making sure your voice is heard,” and then when the year comes by, never hearing from us again… It starts from creating a team — when I'm creating my team, I'm looking for people who really care about our student body, who really know the things that matter, who are involved not only just Student Council. They don't need to be involved in another CIO, but they need to be able to accurately — really have a feel for how the student body is and then building that team off comes through a rigorous recruitment process. We're looking for the best people. We're looking for people who are not only experienced but again like are very cognizant of how the student body is.
8. What do you think the relationship should look like between the Student Council president and the University’s administration? In what ways do you think the administration helps and hinders Student Council?
Cintron: I think the way that Council should approach this position is to really emphasize the 'student' in Student Council — I know that sounds cheesy — but at the end of the day, we're an advocate for students, and we should be going to administration and saying, 'I don't accept your response, I don't accept the status quo, this is how students are feeling and this is what we need to talk about, and this is what you need to address, and students are upset.' I think we, too often, take response from administrators and stop at that, but what we need to do is actually advocating on behalf of students, and that's where the issues can come when the Student Council president forgets that at the end of the day we are elected by students, we are held accountable by students and we should be advocating on behalf of students. We should not be explaining to students what administration thinks, we should be explaining to administration what students think.
Daniels: I think that the Student Council president must have a presence in many of the proceedings in the administration, because the Student Council president’s position is premised on being a servant for the student body as a whole, and I think that a lack of presence of the Student Council president or even regular members just showcases the lack of transparency the University has in regards to do with the the needs and desires of the students. I think that one way the administration helps Student Council is that many chief officers are open to meeting with executive members and representatives of Student Council which I think showcases a bit of humility of behalf of those administrators, and I think it showcases that fact the degree and the true power of student governance, and the true effectiveness of student governance ... I think that the Student Council, as I said earlier, has opened the line of communication between CIOs and other administration. I think the Student Council must not approach the administration just alone as primary agents of the student body. I think they must do so in conjunction with organizations of people that have ideas, who have goals.
Lin: So in terms of the University administration, I think you need to — in order to get anything important done at this University, you need administration. But just because I need administration doesn't mean I have to like cozy up to them. There’s a lot of different ways you can pressure, I mean ways you can work with administration. So firstly, I would try — for a lot of cases it's important to maintain some relationship with administration. I'm not going to like just ignore them when I don't see them. I think it's important to get really connected with them. I've already met a lot of Deans before, and I always try my best to let them know what's going on with the students, what students are thinking. And I think more important is sometimes they [Administration] feel like students don't go out to them a lot. I think Sarah Kenney said it best at a meeting, a student basically said, “Hey. I feel like administration only wants to work with student leaders,” and she said “administration’s happy to work with people. Any student any student, they want. I just think the problem is for me personally is that students don't know ... who to go to for administrative things, and I really want to help bridge students together with administration because I think that's the only way that real policy comes out of things. So, yes, administration does help us because they have the power in our University. They hinder us because at times I think every administrator is very cautious. I think administrators are usually pretty hesitant on taking action, unless there's enough pressure or there is enough of a good reason or enough money to support something.
9. Students will be voting on to decide whether to grant the president veto power over the Representative Body, although this veto could be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the representatives. Do you support creating a presidential veto power, why or why not? What do you think the relationship should look like between the Student Council president and Representative Body?
Cintron: I was not involved in the creation of this amendment and so forth … Adding a presidential veto makes sense … During the budget process, representatives have a complete ability to deny everything to the Student Council president's initiatives. So the result is sometimes cutting spending for some things that we think would be beneficial for the student body and some things that our president will be elected to do. I think it makes sense, and I think it would actually allow for more collaboration and more competition between reps and the president because at that point you're in the dealmaking process. You have to get to a table and talk about the issues and see what is acceptable and what isn't acceptable. And your representatives could successfully and officially serve as the check to the executive and honestly, this organization needs checks and balances. I think a veto kind of completes it, in the sense that there are checks and balances, and the Representative Body would have override majority. I can't imagine things necessarily changing or things actually going through a veto, but I think it does facilitate a relationship that should exist. I think representatives should be fully empowered to actually be taken seriously and to actually advocate for things for their own budget, for their own representative committee, and I think that give-and-take process is really good for the student body because then students can actually advocate for or against what the president wants to do, and for-and-against what the reps what to do.
Daniels: For summary right now, I still do not have a clear answer of what I’ll vote for in this referendum. My thought process is right now is that I think that because the Student Council president is a representative elected by the students as a whole, that the Student Council should be listening to the needs and ideas of the student body as a whole, and any pride therein … I’m describing that the Student Council to find a way to compromise and a way to work through the differences in the ways that they are approaching a problem. The student body and the Student Council president ... the presidential election and the representative election is not an election based on party, there’s not a party system at all, it’s a free for all. Any student that goes up to adequately represent the student body has the opportunity to run for office, and any student can be elected. I think that being said, I think all students should have a say in the representative process and the legislative process of the Student Council. I do not, as of right now I do not agree with the referendum of the president being able to be override the authority of the representative body. I think the president should be mature and knowledgeable enough to approach and communicate with the members of the representative body. And any time a bill passes by the majority of the representatives, usually all of their actions, court reporting to deciding as a whole, I think that’s indicative of maybe a large idea. I don’t think the Student Council president should have the authority to override representative legislation.
Lin: I completely disagree with the veto. I think currently as it is right now, I [as President] don't need any more power over Student Council. I think the executive board does not need any more power over the Representative Body, and I think in the past executive power has tried to dominate the Representative Body in ways that, in my opinion, are just not necessary. So I think there's no reason to just grant another. Like with Congress, there is a veto. But at this point within our Student Council, the Representative Body has far less stature. A lot of times reps are expected to listen to the executive board, but it doesn't work the other way around… I would never try to say “you have to go by me in order to like post something on Facebook” because you're elected as a rep, you are elected by the student body to help represent your constituents. I respect that completely. I think yes there is supposed to be some sort of separation of powers in this. And yes there are checks and balances right now, but the checks and balances right now are just too skewed towards the executive board… That's not me. I'm not looking for another veto. And I think it's completely unnecessary, and it goes against really valuing student voice and respecting the legitimacy of the Representative Body. If anything, the Representative Body should be more powerful.
10. What should the relationship look like between the Student Council president and the vice presidents for administration and organizations?
Cintron: I can speak from experience. We have executive board meetings, and those should be held every week — in fact, I have one that starts at 6 p.m. … At the end of the day, all three positions are elected independently and by the same pool of students. They're not necessarily subservient to the president, and they each run their own part of the organization. President runs — essentially, has the vision for the whole organization, but they mostly are focused on the policy. Vice president for administration is mostly focused on internal management and the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization. And the vice president for organization … their job is mostly related to our agency function, and that is the distribution of the student activities fee and … they should do their job. And honestly … we should all be given the respect together to operate on equal standing basis with the president, have some sense of guidance and leadership authority and also [be] interested in that everyone is quite equal at the table.
Daniels: … It’s important, it’s imperative that the vice president for an organization, vice president for administration, work in conjunction with the president and that they are on the same page as to the way they approach their ventures, the way they talk about certain topics ... I think the necessity for there not to be strife happening, a necessity for confusion between their goals. I think that one way this can be seen is that they have their own executive meeting, I think that’s a necessity for the Student Council president to make time for the vice presidents for organization and for administration. I think that there should also be, I think that the president should be aware of the vice president’s abilities and also make sure they have the proper powers and are exercising their powers with maturity. I have some ideas as to enhancing the CIO platforms and things like that. And I think that it’s imperative that, if I were to be elected, I work alongside the vice President of organizations, and let him have, at the end of the day, the opportunity to exercise his power, and showcase his ability through it. … then it’s important that [vice presidents] be given responsibilities and be given a chance to exercise the power and do what the student body voted for them to do. And so, all in all, I think that there should be evident cohesion of the three roles and the public should be able to perceive that.
Lin: I think the Vice President for Administration, the President and the Vice President for Organizations should all work very closely together. I think it's important that when you have the executive board … there's a strong team within the process. And again as president, I want to be able to like make decisions collaboratively with my body. I understand that I'm president, but sometimes that comes with working across a strong team of students. And yeah I understand that in this election, there's like running mates and everything. Me and my running mate [Al Ahmed], we talk about this a lot like we really would work well together. His name is Ahmed. Oh he's great, you should vote for him. But at the same time if something happens where I lose or if he loses, sometimes you have to work with the other person. And I think when it comes down to that, there will have to be compromises being made. Not — I wouldn't have to say compromises, but there will have to be long and tangible discussions on where you really want to see [where] the student body goes to. I think the Vice President for Administration is — I respect the role a lot for Vice President for Administration, they're very much in charge of helping set the structure and the procedure protocols and managing the Outreach Committee and the Technology Committee to finance these. I think these are important things.
11. Numerous endorsing student organizations have signed on to to only endorse candidates who spend within a set amount. For president, this amount is $250. Are you committed to staying within this spending cap?
Cintron: Yeah, I've signed that … Yes, yes, yes.
Daniels: I am committed to staying within the boundaries that are outlined in the petition.In fact I don’t plan on even spending half of that … I think that if there was not this petition, there would be this overwhelming priority for me to keep up with other people in regards to campaign spending and getting my voice across. I think this petition allows for more of a level playing field.
Lin: Yes, I am. I think campaign finance is extremely important. Actually, what happened was me and my running mate were talking earlier … maybe we should talk to the other candidates and make a deal that we don't spend that much because I don't think anyone should be able to buy the election ... I just honestly prefer if everything was public funds. That's just me because I don't think you should have to spend a dollar on elections. Maybe a dollar but not like 10 dollars. But I think it's something that I'm very glad has been emphasized because low income students should not be hurt from this election process. I'm just a competitive guy - I want to beat you with the same amount of money you spend. I don't want to be like, “Oh, I spent more money and beat you,” I want to be like “OK, we spent even amounts of money, and I still beat you.” That's just me, but I'm just kidding. But I think it's definitely a step forward in a positive direction. I'm looking forward to everything that comes out of this election.
12. And more generally, what do you think of the role that spending plays in student elections, and is there anything you think should be done by the administration, the University Board of Elections, or some other body of the University to limit the amounts spent on elections?
Cintron: I think that the University and [University Board of Elections] should step in. I don't know why they haven't … I think the endorsing organizations are incredibly, in my opinion, brave, for actually trying to take the position that they're doing and withhold their endorsement and ask candidates to pledge to it if they're running for office, and I think that's an effective way to get candidates to agree to the campaign spending rules. But it's absolutely unacceptable that a student could drop $1,000, and I over here — who doesn't come from a wealthy background — [have] to save up to be prepared for anything that may come. If you're running for student body president, if you're running for any position in any organization, you should have the ability to get your message and platform out there on an equal standing with your peers, without having to worry about the spending that may happen … Other public universities throughout the commonwealth have spending caps, like William & Mary, so I don't see what the issue is.
Daniels: My viewpoint as to student spending in student elections is [that] while I do believe that everyone’s ability to pursue student elections as they will… I think the fact that I’m able to run, the fact that I was offered grants, and the fact that I do have those payments within those boundaries allows me to be a part of the democratic process…. Administration, as a whole, all that is asked is that if there is no cap on campaign spending, there is a greater percentage of students in regards to being a part of the democratic process, and I think that it will just showcase different, diverse representation in Student Council … I’d extend certain regulations that are occurring right now when wanting to run for president, it would be given, I think, $150 or maybe $100 of a campaign grant. The problem with the petition is that the president has up to $250 to spend. I think that maybe the University Board of Elections should offer pending grants that’s yours, for the most part, a potential petition that could be so that the administration must endorse this petition and position on campaign spending.
Lin: I mean, honestly, I think what it should be is the University Board of Elections should be able to [freely] grant because right now we apply for grants. I don't know if I received the grant or not, but I think all students should be able to receive grants. We have a lot of money in this University, and I think U.Va. could do some fundraising or some objective thing to be able to make sure that every candidate is able to get a good amount of grants. And then, I think honestly in the ideal world, I think if you fundraise enough, and you let people know about student self governance, I think people will really have enough money to run an election without using public finances. I think that's the perfect thing. I’ve never heard of U.Va. like — they might do a lot of fundraising, but I've never heard about these initiatives. And I think it's something that a lot of people would be really interested in because I think student self governance is talked about a lot, but I don't think you can really live out student self governance unless you limit money in elections because we want students to be in charge of the process. We want students to really take ownership of the leadership opportunities, and I think excessive spending on elections really gets in the way of that kind of that philosophy. I think in student self governance right now as it is, a lot of people have it in our University, but a lot of people, especially groups that are … more disenfranchised do not possess that. And I think having money in elections only gives the groups that already have more power in this University an even stronger foothold. And I really think in order to help balance things out, I think it's just important. Preferably public funds are the only things you use.
13. What is one council expenditure you think is important and what is one that concerns you?
Cintron:There are a few that I think are important. I think some of the things in [the] Safety and Wellness [committee] … such as the money allocated to have subsidized feminine hygiene in newcomb, and also subsidized STI testing … I think that's something that administration, UVA administration needs to be doing themselves, but I like the fact that our Safety and Wellness Committee is being committed to create a seed project so that they can show numbers and show qualitative and quantitative data to administration … Student Council is at its best when it's using its money to actually advocate on behalf of specific policy initiatives. Some things that concern me are, I mean generally, spending could be better. I think in this past budget session, the representatives — not the representatives — cabinet committee chairs, we could've had a longer process to do this, to make sure that what we asked for [what] we needed, and that we weren't overspending or over requesting. I think we could do better on food, I think we could do more with food costs. I think we could do more with working with U.Va. dining to have less costly things that do not directly affect students and that could be used for other initiatives that are important for Student Council's purpose.
Daniels: So one thing that concerns me is the Student Council’s viewpoint for giving out water bottles for football games when it’s too hot out. I think while it’s notable how … can be beneficial, I think it also should be investigated a bit more. I also think that now there should be more investigation as to the spending to CIOs. I think there should be a set group of people that maybe help the student body elect to have the responsibility of allocating funds. Student Council and the vice president of Organizations is given approximately almost a million dollars to the student activities fee, and I think that the setup, the vice president of Organizations and some other members of Council deciding who determines or decides expenditures in regards to that round of Student Council, I think the student body should elect someone who — not only the vice president of Organizations — but also specific representatives to make sure it is a little more representative of the student body as a whole. One Council expenditure that concerns me is the expenditures in regards to the vice president of Organization's ability to determine funds to the CIOs, I think there should be more investigating into the people deciding the allocation of funds. But yeah, that is one thing that intrigues me.
Lin: I think the most important thing we have right now is within the VPO’s domain. So the money we distribute to CIO’s I think is the most valuable thing in our University. So we collect student activities fees, but we also distribute a lot of money, and this money doesn't only just go into — it's not just Student Council. Student Council also distributes money. So all these CIO’S across Grounds [receive] funds [for] a lot of things, and I think that's the single most important thing that Student Council spends on right now. It’s something that affects student lives in so many ways, it hits so many corners of our University … Right now we're good at what we're [giving] student groups on giving them money, but we also want to get their voice.
I think Student Council, when we treat ourselves at events, I think it should be more spartan. So we have sometimes expensive banquets and nice things, and we actually spend a lot of money on banquets to invite deans and administrators to come over to share. I forgot the exact cost of the money, but it was like a fancy dinner and things like that. And I do not think these kind of purchases are necessary. Like some of these trips to Monticello. I think it looks really — it does help build like that team aspect sometimes, but I think if Student Council could really focus on how do we lower the cost of treating ourselves out — so instead of having like a fancy dinner to try to get quote unquote connections with administrators that a lot of people didn't even attend, Student Council didn't even attend. I would recommend maybe looking into why not just meet up somewhere like Newcomb with our student administrators.
14. Students have about safety at the University this past semester, particularly with regards to U.Va.’s community alerts system and the lack of alerts for incidents like white nationalists and a at Boylan this semester. However, U.Va. seems limited in what it can do. What do you see as the role of Student Council in this conversation, and are there any specific safety-related initiatives you think Student Council should undertake?
Cintron: Go through the platform, we have a lot on this. And that is exactly what we have in there — … hold UPD accountable for the failures they've had this year, whether it was the Aug. 11 or 12, breaking up parties on the Lawn of mostly-minority students and also the recent Boylan Heights incident. We are also committed to promoting LiveSafe as an app, and making sure that every student has the ability to know when something happens near them. The fact that — and I understand the legality and so forth — but it's just completely unacceptable to me that there was no alert whatsoever from the administration or any entity about the fact that there was an incident at Boylan that could've affected any students within the proximity … In our platform, we have a section about trying to hold UPD accountable, trying to make sure they are protecting the students that they're supposed to protect, that they're living up to their mandate, to their roles … Student Council has every ability to speak out when people do not live up to their expectations and has every ability to support other organizations and other students that demand more from those who are there to protect them.
Daniels: Initially when I considered running for office, the only platform issues I had were in regards to safety, so I’m so thankful that you asked that question. Like I said earlier, I think that there should be investigation as to counseling to the University Police Department. I think that the anger that people have when the University and the community that runs systems is the fact that alerts are not given timely, and the fact that alerts aren’t communicated transparently enough. I think there’s a need for a greater conversation by the student body to counsel the University Police Department and the University administration to the transparency, the efficiency of the University Police Department … I think that it’s necessary that the students as a whole, the Student Council as a whole, help the student body understand the necessity of being educated in regards to this issue … I think there should be a greater conversation with students in collecting news outlets that could possibly offer them information … I was thinking maybe the creation of an app that allows for all community [events] or that come on any news platform, CNN, NBC, etc … [to] be accessible, you’d just have to click on it to stay with it and not rely on the community alert system through the texts or through email … Another thing … is enhancement to the Safe Ride system. I think that there should be … greater efficiency, greater availability in regards to the Safe Ride system … I think the Student Council must work directly with Rebecca White, the director of Parking and Transportation, … as to ways to decrease the waiting time that students wait on the weekends and some nights … 25 percent of the students that use Safe Ride are athletes in the morning who need to go to practice … [maybe] the athletics department [could] take on operating costs and pay a percentage … So I think that for a big part of my initiative I’d really like to research that more, really work with a group of students along with Rebecca White … and maybe even reach out to Athletics … I know that Safe Ride program has many other universities in the need of being restructured, and there’s more resources being put into that program … There should be [advocacy] at the University of Virginia for more resources to be put into the Safe Ride program.
Lin: So, I think Student Council’s role is … we don't control the UPD, so we can't patrol every street ourselves in police cars, but at the same time we can communicate to the student body initiatives that UPD has taken in response to some of these incidents. And honestly to be candid, I don't think UPD has … done the best they could to really respond to these incidents. … there needs to be some sort of a strong safety response … But also working with a lot of groups … interested in safety awareness around Grounds to come up with some of these collaborative solutions … These groups could contact administration, help work on maybe making a new app for the alerts or maybe work with the CS department on creating a new alert system that's like better managed and more responsive. I think Student Council in general does not publicize the steps that they're taking. There's actually an app called LiveSafe, I believe, and it's starting to get made … I think Student Council can do a better job … letting them [CIOs] know, “Hey guys. This is an important issue. There's a LiveSafe app being made, and we want to hear your input on how do you want this app to be customized for the U.Va. experience?”
Correction: This article previously had Daniels's answers to questions 3 and 4 under the incorrect questions. The article has been updated with the correct answers under each of these questions.