Student Council began their second meeting of the semester with a presentation from Derrick Wang, a fourth-year College student and student member of the Board of Visitors. With the quarterly Board of Visitors meeting beginning Sept. 11, Wang expanded on many of the initiatives that the University has been focusing on for this year as well as the goals for the future.
One of the main initiatives that has been at the forefront of University President Jim Ryan’s agenda has been the new Strategic Plan. This initiative has been aimed at laying out the direction of the University for the next 10 years.
Ryan’s plan includes four overarching goals, 18 sub-goals under the four main pillars and 10 concrete initiatives to pursue the main goals. The four overarching goals — “to strengthen UVa.’s foundation, to cultivate the most vibrant community in higher education… to enable discoveries that enrich and improve lives, and to make UVa. ‘synonymous with service’” — are meant to describe a commitment to community, diversity, research and service. Another goal is to create more ways of support for first-generation and low-income students as well as finding more ways to attract, recruit and retain them.
During the Student Council meeting, Wang discussed the possibility of requiring all second-year students to live on Grounds rather than only first-year students. Student Council members posed many critical questions regarding this initiative, including whether all second-year students would be required to have meal plans and if it could result in the displacement of other Charlottesville residents. Wang explained that it is not something that would be ready to implement for next year but instead it is a goal that the University is trying to reach in the next couple of years.
According to Wang, in the next 5 to 10 years, there will be a lot of construction going on at the Emmet/Ivy corridor. In this space there are plans to build cross disciplinary academic buildings, the data science school, a hotel conference center and potentially a performing arts center.
“With all these initiatives that are happening, I think students will have an opportunity to engage with the efforts that are happening at the University, and affect the way that the University will affect the student experience for your generation,'' Wang said at the meeting.
Ellie Brasacchio, a fourth-year College student and Student Council president, shared some updates for the upcoming week such as her upcoming meeting with the Director of Housing and Residence Life, Gay Perez, in reference to the cost for students to live in a Lawn room. Brasacchio stated that Lawn rooms are incredibly expensive which makes it unaffordable to many low income students. Lawn rooms range from $7,120 to $7,270 per academic year for 2019-2020.
“I believe Lawn rooms are way too expensive and I think it's a barrier for low-income students — and I don't think that's fair,” Brasacchio said. “I'm going to be asking [Perez] about the price break down for the Lawn rooms, how they came to that price, and what we can do to try to get it lower it or put more money into funds that help pay for low-income students Lawn rooms.”
During the legislative session of the meeting, Student Council members approved the appointment of a new member to the Rule and Ethics committee, which is tasked with holding hearings if there are any ethical violations related to the constitution and bylaws.
Additionally, all of the Student Council members present at the meeting agreed to table the bill relating to the Alumni Relations committee, which is aimed at developing and maintaining relationships with alumni of Student Council at the University. A member of Student Council said that many other student organizations, such as the University Judiciary Committee and Honor Committee, hold reunions for their alumni in order to strengthen their relationships. The bill also talked about merging the Membership and Outreach committees.