The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

EDITORIAL: Elect Student Council representatives who will fight for change

The Cavalier Daily endorses nine CLAS Representatives and one Batten Representative

<p>The Editorial Board endorses Gabriela Hernandez, Ryan Alcorn, Violette Cadet, Nina Santana, Lillian Rojas, Booker Johnson, Ella Tynch, Amelia Delphos, Noah Strike and Rand Perry.&nbsp;</p>

The Editorial Board endorses Gabriela Hernandez, Ryan Alcorn, Violette Cadet, Nina Santana, Lillian Rojas, Booker Johnson, Ella Tynch, Amelia Delphos, Noah Strike and Rand Perry. 

This year, The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board is endorsing nine candidates running for Student Council College of Arts and Sciences representative and one running for Student Council Representative from the Frank Batten School of Public Policy. Each of these candidates has advocated for increased diversity and a more accessible Student Council. We endorse two incumbent College representatives — second-year Gabriela Hernandez and third-year Ryan Alcorn — as well as first-years Violette Cadet, Nina Santana and Lillian Rojas, second-years Booker Johnson and Ella Tynch and third-years Amelia Delphos and Noah Strike. The Cavalier Daily also endorses third-year Rand Perry for Student Council Representative for Batten.

Gabriela Hernandez already has experience working on legislation as a Student Council representative — she is running to retain her seat on Student Council. Hernandez’s sponsored resolutions from the past legislative session  include a denouncement of administrative negligence in regards to Greek life’s endangerment of the student body during this semester’s recruitment process. She also served on the Student Council’s diversity engagement committee, on which she researched the makeup of Black and Brown students at the University to work towards increasing representation in the student body. Additionally, Hernandez is co-chair for the community cohort in Political Latinxs United for Movement and Action in Society. Hernandez’s specific policy proposals include making textbooks free for low-income students — if not all students — and securing funding for minority organizations so that they have more financial resources on hand. Hernandez has the experience needed to get things done. More importantly, though — she has the vision needed to make this University serve its students better. 

Ryan Alcorn — who has one year of Student Council experience and an extensive lobbying background — proposes a much more accessible and active Student Council. He explains that Student Council representatives should communicate more effectively with thes student body. After all, if Student Council doesn’t have the input of the student body, they are limited in the progress they can make. One way Student Council can increase student body involvement is by taking advantage of mass emails. Another of his proposed methods is to encourage representatives to interact with CIOs. While input is crucial, Ryan Alcorn explains that the student body must also understand how the Student Council functions. On this note, he proposes a more accessible legislative process. For instance, he wants to create a one-pager describing parliamentary procedure. And, he wants to require a brief summary and goals of action attached to each piece of legislation. Ultimately, Ryan Alcorn believes that a more accessible Student Council will make it more active and effective.

Violette Cadet currently serves as chair of the First-Year Council’s diversity and inclusion board, during which she has planned events for her class and created lists of inclusive clubs on Grounds. In high school, she created a cabaret charity, in which she gave a stage to performance art in order to raise money for a women’s group. Cadet identified a recurrence of resolutions within the current Student Council, but if elected, she hopes to move from resolutions to actual action. By putting Student Council in direct conversation with Contracted Independent Organizations — clubs and various groups in the University community — Cadet wants to better identify inefficiencies across Grounds and within Student Council. She also wants to institute an open-door policy in Student Council so that student and community demands are better heard.

Nina Santana is a member of the Black Student Alliance, which has allowed her to work with PLUMAS and undocUVA and has given her insight into Black, Indigienous and Latinx communities. Santana served as president for her high school’s student council, and she hopes to use her experience in advocating for the removal of Confederate statues across Grounds, an official land acknowledgement to the Monacan people and increased funding for ethnic studies courses. She would also like to restructure the perception of Student Council among the student body and ensure that student voices are actually heard on Student Council, possibly through holding events where students can come and speak about their experiences to inform Student Council members.

Lillian Rojas highly values minority inclusivity. Though she has no experience with Student Council at the University, she intends to rely on her unique perspective as a biracial student. She believes that this identity will allow her to effectively interact with diverse perspectives and ensure she adequately represents University students. With this in mind, she intends to specifically support lower income, DACA and latinx students. In order to accomplish this broader goal, she is interested in using social media and reaching out to multicultural CIOs to better gauge student input. She notes that another marginalized voice on Student Council is first years. Lillian Rojas believes that first years should be much better informed about the role of Student Council, its goals and the action Student Council is taking to accomplish those goals. To conclude, she reiterates that her main goal is to help marginalized students feel included and wants to ensure that all voices are heard.

Booker Johnson believes that it is students' voices that matter most — that’s why a huge part of his platform is focusing on making sure that student voices are no longer pushed aside and are amplified by representatives. His is a voice that would be incredibly valuable to Student Council, as he explicitly notes his intention to protect Black women within Student Council and across the University as a representative. His main focus will be on furthering equity and inclusion, partnering with other representatives and organizations to seek support for first-generation and low income students. Booker’s voice is one that Student Council needs right now, fighting for those students who have been most marginalized. 

Ella Tynch serves as the communication chair of Young Democratic-Socialists of America at U.Va. In this role, she has advocated for a tuition freeze in light of the COVID-19 pandemic’s hardships and has successfully fought for a credit/general credit/no credit policy for Summer 2020 classes. While wanting to keep an open mind to a diversity of opinions, Tynch plans to advocate for students and workers. Her policy proposals include providing payment for Student Disability Access Center notetakers and providing students involvement grants so they may volunteer without interference from having to work a job to cover personal expenses. Tynch says that she plans to be available to the student body and local community — via town halls, public feedback sessions, holding calls and keeping her inbox open.

Amelia Delphos has a clear understanding of the limitations of student government. She demonstrates passion towards better racial equity and increased mental health services at the University. She has no prior experience with Student Council. However, she cited her extensive experience as a journalist and believes that her dedication to students and her journalism skills — especially attentiveness and non-judgemental listening — will ensure her success as a representative. If elected as a representative, she wants to make Student Council more accessible, inclusive, and equitable. For instance, she plans to proactively reach out to minority organizations on Grounds and is interested in legislation that supports students seeking additional mental health services at the University. 

Noah Strike — who has several semesters of administrative experience on Student Council — emphasizes that the role of representatives is to help students. He notes that Student Council representatives should not exist to further specific political agendas. Hence, he wants a representative position so that he can defend students against discriminatory rhetoric. Noah Strike believes that both representatives and CIOs should be held accountable for their actions. He specifically mentions the CIO involvement with anti-queer discrimination and surges in COVID-19. To rectify the current discriminatory rhetoric, he wants to educate these groups about the harmful impacts of their actions. Furthermore, while he understands that Student Council is limited in the actions they can take against CIOs, he urges Student Council members to apply ethical and emotional pressure to limit discriminatory behavior by CIOs. 

Rand Perry has served as a Resident Advisor since his second year, which inspired him to run after seeing how difficult the past year has been on students. In Student Council, he served on the Outreach Committee as a first-year and was also a Chair on the Financial Committee. If elected, he aims to work on equity in admissions, which he says has been explicitly designed to privilege certain groups of people. His goal is to increase diversity at the University while simultaneously supporting the already diverse student body in order to ensure all groups are represented. Perry’s goal to increase representation starts with everyone having a seat at the table by having access to their representatives, he says. He plans to hold regular office hours, take advantage of the already existing community structure and implement an anonymous form for people to fill out. He emphasized the importance of ensuring a continued effort of initiatives that will leave a lasting legacy and not simply die when he graduates.

Editor's note: Amelia Delphos, Booker Johnson and Noah Strike are writers for The Cavalier Daily. The Editorial Board's decision to endorse them was made impartially and without consideration of their affiliation with our publication.

The Cavalier Daily will release its endorsement for Student Council President after it hosts the candidates for a debate at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 15. The event will be virtual and live streamed to The Cavalier Daily's Facebook page. You can find more information — along with a form to submit questions — at our event page.