Student Council to plan upcoming conference for low-income and first generation students

The conference will take place at the University this spring and will offer workshops, speakers and other resources


Ellie Brasacchio, a third year College student and the chair of the Representative Body, will be an executive co-chair for the AL1GN, or the Alliance for the Low Income and First Generation Narrative, planning committee. 

Katja Cresanti | Cavalier Daily

At its general body meeting Tuesday evening, Student Council unanimously approved the creation an ad-hoc committee to plan the upcoming 2019 AL1GN conference. AL1GN stands for the Alliance for the Low Income and First Generation Narrative, a student movement and nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering and connecting low-income and first-generation students nationwide.

The organization began in 2015 as “a coalition of first-generation and low-income students and the staff who support them, growing in the course of just over a year to include dozens of schools and organizations across the country.” Last year’s AL1GN conference took place at Barnard University.

This year, the conference will be held at U.Va. in spring, although the exact location and dates for the conference are still to be determined by the committee.

The measure to approve the formation of the committee was introduced by Ellie Brasacchio, a third-year College student and the chair of the Representative Body, who gave a brief description of the conference. 

“Basically what it’s going to be is a combination of workshops, speakers and resources for first generation low income students, not just U.Va. students, but students across the country,” Brasacchio said. “It’s probably going to be around 300 students total. It’s going to be in the spring, we’re looking to have it in March.”

Brasacchio said while the University administration will aid Student Council in the organization of the conference, the planning process will largely be empowered by students. 

“It’s not just students working on it, we’re also in conjunction with the University administration, but the central planning is going to be student-based, especially for the programs and workshops that we’re doing,” Brasacchio said. “We will probably have some administration or some other speakers come in, but other than that, most of things will be student-led."

Brasacchio will also serve as an executive co-chair for the AL1GN planning committee along with fourth-year Education Student Josh Farris.

The bill also includes language that allows the executive co-chairs to appoint a chair of finance, a chair of marketing and a chair of outreach, among others. Brasacchio said applications for those positions are now available. 

“We’re looking at a lot of different avenues, especially CIO groups, to get the word out about our application,” Brasacchio said. “It is due next Friday, and then we will review them and get our committee together and start working on the conference. ” 

The application is open to all students at U.Va., not just members of Student Council. Also, because the conference is for low-income, first-generation students, the cost of attendance will be subsidized, Brasacchio said. 

“They don’t have to pay for anything, so food and housing and transportation is all going to be provided,” Brasacchio said. “We’re looking for a bunch of grants, like the Parents’ Fund, and other things like that, and also potentially using some of Student Council funds.”

Brasacchio added that the Committee hoped to get help from President Jim Ryan. 

“It seems like the upper University administration is really on board with this,” Brasacchio said. “President Ryan has been working on first generation student initiatives as well, so we’re hoping to get some support from there, so it’s going to be all free for the students.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Council also passed a bill to approve Emily Yuhas, a third-year College student and Student Council President Alex Cintron’s appointee, as the chair of the Service Committee. According to the Student Council website, “the Service Committee’s mission is to connect students with different service opportunities in order to serve both the UVA community as well as the surrounding Charlottesville community.”

“I’ve been on Service Committee since my first-year, so third-year now,” Yuhas said. “I worked really closely with the previous chairs of the committee, so I’m really looking forward to this semester and this year and bringing some continuity and consistency to the committee.”

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