This year, students have a choice between two candidates running for Student Council president — third-year College students Gavin Oxley and Abel Liu. This is an incredibly important election — students are selecting a candidate to represent the voices of the entire student body. As such, Student Council needs a leader like Liu. The Cavalier Daily endorses Liu for Student Council president, along with second-year College students Ryan Cieslukowski for vice president of organizations and Cecilia Cain for vice president of administration. The Editorial Board welcomes a New Era of student self-governance.
Abel Liu has a vast amount of experience within Student Council. He has been a representative since his first year at the University, and he has served two terms now as chair of the representative body. He understands both how the system works and where it has faults. His platform focuses on building a new model, and it is this experience that allows him to effectively make that change.
Liu has put in the work. He has proven time and time again that fighting for the well-being of all students is currently and always will be his first priority. From working with organizations like the First Generation/Low Income Partnership and Young Democratic Socialists of America at U.Va. to lobby the University for a credit/no credit grading option throughout the pandemic, to founding and managing the mutual aid network that has raised over $70,000 directly for the benefit of students — one thing is clear. Abel is in this race for all of us.
Liu is running on a platform focused on rebuilding Student Council into a more effective system. Specifically, he has two major changes in mind. First, his administration plans to create a Support and Access Services Branch to manage all student services and resources. Secondly, he plans on separating the Advisory and Advocacy Boards from Cabinet Committees, creating two arms of the Cabinet to allow for a greater focus on activism and lobbying. These two proposed initiatives alone demonstrate Liu’s complete understanding of how Student Council works through what he aptly describes as “a collective bargaining agency,” and how he will make this agency work better for students.
Put quite plainly, Liu is the most qualified candidate for this position in recent memory. While it would be impossible to summarize his entire platform — which you should read here — in this Editorial, there are a couple major takeaways that all students should note. Liu is in this race because he cares about every single student at this University. He is in this race because he has seen — over the past two and a half years — what should improve and what needs to be done to make those sustainable reforms. Liu has dedicated so much of himself to creating effective change through Student Council — our Editorial Board is eager to see all of the efforts that could be realized under a Liu administration, and all that future generations of student leaders would build out from the new foundation Liu intends to set.
In addition, the entirety of Liu’s ticket shows that when it comes to student self-governance, they come prepared. Their joint platform is 42 pages long, with actionable, detailed policies on their platform of equity, empowerment and renewal.
Cecilia Cain is well-acquainted with Student Council, having served as chair of its Financial Accessibility Committee during its past term. In this position, Cain helped first-generation and low-income students access aid resources, lobbied for textbook cost reductions and secured grants to mental health resources for low-income students. She has used social media to build a coalition among FGLI students, a togetherness she hopes to promote if elected as vice president for administrations. One of her policy proposals includes obtaining grants for students wanting to involve themselves in coalitions across Grounds but currently can’t due to conflicts with their job. Cain’s platforms centers around ensuring students — specifically FGLI students — don’t miss out on clubs or organizations due to financial or time restraints.
As VPA, Cain would advocate for a restructuring of Student Council, including a rebranding of the Student Council as completely separate from University administration and more open to working with contracted independent organizations on Grounds. She hopes to officially recognize the contributions of groups like The Black Student Alliance to Student Council resolutions while also ensuring that Council has a diverse and equitable membership. Working with coalitions and CIOs, Cain wants budgeting to be participatory so these groups have a say in their funding.
Ryan Cieslukowski has a large amount of experience serving on Student Council, serving as vice-chair of the Appropriations Committee for the past year. In this role, Cieslukowski oversaw the allocation of over $150,000 to more than 70 different Contracted Independent Organizations. Looking forward, Cieslukowski’s vision is one that is needed on Student Council. He wants to fight for equitable systems at the University, establishing an Equity and Incentives Committee to better understand how the Organizations Branch needs to change to help identity-based organizations.
As VPO, Cieslukowski would work alongside Liu and Cain to redesign Student Council into an organization that works for and fights for everyone. His platform is one focused on expanding resources for marginalized communities and creating an Organizations Branch that more effectively serves and supports student groups. He is incredibly qualified for this position — his experience and vision create a candidate so ready to take on the role of redefining Student Council’s role in students’ everyday lives.
Abel Liu has shown us time and time again how dedicated he is to all of us. If students put their trust in Liu, they can confidently believe that their voices will be heard. He is a candidate unlike any other. As students at this University and members of the Editorial Board, we are enthusiastic and proud to endorse Abel Liu — as well as Cecilia Cain and Ryan Cieslukowski — to serve as the next leaders in Student Council. We encourage all students at the University to vote for a New Era this week. Voting opens Wednesday at 10 a.m. and runs through 4 p.m. on Friday, March 19 — make sure your voice is heard in this election.