Second-year College student Keiara Price was elected Sunday to serve as the next president of the Black Student Alliance. She will succeed fourth-year College student Wes Gobar in the role.
Price said she has clear objectives for BSA in the upcoming year.
“A big goal of ours is to refocus the purpose of BSA back to being not a tool for administration, not the vehicle by which we make U.Va. change always,” Price said. “[I want to] bring the narrative back to how can we better the black community.”
BSA members also elected the organization’s executive board — second-year College student Latrell Lee was selected to be secretary, first-year College student Rachel Jeffers as chief financial officer, first-year College student Jalon Daniels as political action advisor, third-year College student Jasmine Moore-Mangone as political action advisor vice chair and second-year College student Allen Williams as leadership development chair.
Additionally, second-year College student Alvin Barnes was elected leadership development vice chair, first-year College student JaVori Warren elected membership vice chair, third-year Commerce student Ciara Blackston was elected social cultural chair and second-year College student Kourtney Bugg as academic and career development chair.
Over 100 members voted in this year’s elections — four times the amount from last year. The upswing is likely due in part to an extended online voting period, as well as increased electioneering by several contenders.
“There was a lot of campaigning from the various candidates,” Price said. “Even from candidates who were running uncontested wanted to get their platforms out there [and] to make sure the student body knew what their goals were.”
Gobar said the elections were the largest he’s seen in years.
“[This year’s elections were] some of the most representative elections we’ve had in a long time,” Gobar said.
Price said the purpose of BSA is not exclusively addressing diversity at the University. Rather, she said BSA encourages diversity to ensure the administration addresses black students’ needs.
“We actually want to tap into what our community wants, and that means black faculty, black staff, black students, the black Charlottesville community,” Price said. “I want to make it very clear that in order for incoming and current students to feel comfortable, it is largely dependent on the network of black people that are already in place.”
Price said BSA’s mission includes an emphasis on the wellbeing of the black community, including fair wages and living standards.
“To ensure that we have more black faculty, we have that our black staff is being paid fairly and they’re not struggling, our black community is thriving,” Price said.
At the start of this school year, BSA the March to Reclaim Our Grounds following the white nationalist rallies of Aug. 11 and 12. Alongside the march, BSA issued 10 to the University. Several have been fulfilled, including the honoring graduates who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War and on the Lawn. Others, like required education for all University students on Charlottesville’s history of white supremacy, colonization and slavery, have not been recognized by the University, though numerous student groups have endorsed the list.
Price said she wants BSA to continue to influence policy at the University.
“I want people to know that BSA is an organization that has the power to do a lot,” Price said. “We can create dialogue, we can create cultural understanding and we can create effective, lasting policy change.”
However, the incoming president doesn’t want to limit BSA to being a political advocacy group — Price said she wants to emphasize the social and cultural sides of the organization that are sometimes swept to the side.
“We also are a group that we need to understand ourselves,” Price said. “Don’t just call us when you need a march, or an administrators meeting. But show up to our events that talk about the issues in our community and the joy we also feel.”
BSA was the first organization Price joined at the University. Price joined BSA’s political action committee her first semester, and served in that role until this semester. This year, Price took on the role of vice chair of political action.
“A lot of my work this year has been on the demands, so the March to Reclaim our Grounds demands,” Price said. “And also aiming to have more engagement with the Charlottesville community as well.”
Gobar is optimistic about the future of the organization under Price’s leadership.
“I am very glad to leave this organization in strong, capable hands,” Gobar said. “I think she has a lot of vision and great ideas for the black community ... And I think that she will do a lot to ensure that all black students and members of the black community are heard and represented by the BSA.”
The newly-elected executive board takes over in fall 2018, with the next several months as a leadership transition.