The University Board of Elections announced results of the 2021 election Friday night. Third-year College student Abel Liu was elected Student Council president with 81.2 percent of the presidential election vote. His opponent, third-year College student Gavin Oxley, garnered 1,778 votes, or 18.8 percent of votes cast.
Liu will serve as the University’s first Chinese American Student Council president as well as the first openly transgender student government president who was “out” at the time of his election at a major American university.
Liu's team, which initially stated that Liu was the first-ever transgender student government president at a major American public university, issued an amended statement Saturday morning acknowledging that Taylor Maloney, the student government president at Virginia Commonwealth University, was the first.
"We are sincerely sorry and have been in touch with Taylor to give them the credit that they deserve," the amended statement said.
The rest of Liu’s ticket was elected in unopposed races — second-year College student Ryan Cieslukowski will serve as vice president for organizations, and third-year College student Cecilia Cain will serve as vice president for administration.
In a statement released shortly after results were announced, Liu’s ticket thanked the University community for supporting them and securing a “moral victory on a referendum about who we hope to become as a University.” The statement specifically cited “fear-mongering, misinformation and personal smears,” which made the race a “microcosm of American politics.”
Oxley’s campaign and some supporters are currently under investigation for potential violations, including spreading misinformation about Liu’s platform and campaigning before the period was allowed to begin. Jewish student leaders also released a statement Wednesday condemning comments from Oxley that "perpetuate antisemitism" in comparing abortion to Holocaust.
Despite the controversy, Liu, Cain and Cieslukowski said that they were “especially heartened” by the University community’s support.
“The last week has been exhausting and, at times, traumatizing,” the statement said. “But the real work has just begun.”
41.6 percent of students voted — an increase of over 20 percentage points from last year's rate of 10.03 percent. Additionally, 25.4 percent of students voted on this year’s proposed referenda, a substantial increase compared to the previous yearly average of 8 percent.
Fourth-year Commerce student and University Board of Elections Chair Spence Whitney called the voting rates a “huge step in the right direction for student self-governance at U.Va.”
“I’d attribute this high turnout to several things, and the UBE cannot take credit for all it. We had a record number of candidates this year, this is an election year in America, and arguably I’d say that everyone being indoors on their computers and social media has helped our turnout,” Whitney said. “We placed a huge emphasis on accessibility and marketing. We also overhauled our website and social media.”
UBE sourced over $1,000 in prizes from local and minority owned businesses, Whitney added, as well as non-local and virtual incentives for students who are not living in Charlottesville this semester.
“I think we saw students really respond to those incentives, and overall, I’m pleased with how things have turned out this year,” Whitney said.
Student Council representatives
This year, at least one individual ran for every representative position. This is in stark contrast to last year, when at least 11 seats were left vacant. Twenty-two candidates ran for 12 College of Arts and Sciences undergraduate Student Council representative positions. Members of the representative body are responsible for drafting and passing legislation and advocating on the behalf of the students they serve.
First-year students Violette Cadet, Nina Santana, Lillian Rojas, Tyler Busch, Tichara Robertson Lewis and Christian Ephriam, second-year students Lara Arif, Ella Tynch and Booker Johnson and third-year student Noah Strike were elected Student Council undergraduate College representatives.
Second-year student Gabriela Hernandez and third-year student Ryan Alcorn were also re-elected as College undergraduate representatives.
Second-year student Adrian Mamaril was elected Student Council Commerce undergraduate representative.
Chanthang Oliver was elected Student Council Continuing and Professional Studies undergraduate representative in a contested race.
Third-year student Jay Moody was elected Student Council Education undergraduate representative.
Third-year students Rithika Kormath Anand and Joshua Franklin and first-year student Sarah Kirk were elected Student Council Engineering undergraduate representatives in a contested race.
Third-year student Rand Perry was elected Student Council Batten undergraduate representative.
Graduate student Alex Sheng was elected Student Council College graduate student representative and graduate student Isa Fortuno was elected Student Council Darden representative. Both of these positions have one vacancy, in which case the school can appoint a replacement or schedule a special election to fill the position.
Honor Committee and University Judiciary Committee
Second-year students Gabrielle Bray and Amanda Chok and third-year students Charlotte Paulussen, Andrew Chambers and Christian Smith were elected Honor College of Arts and Sciences representatives.
Third-year students Jack Stone and Maggie Regnery were elected Honor Commerce representatives while graduate students Meghan Wingert and Christopher Benos were elected Honor Law representatives.
Third-year student Caitlin Kreinheder was elected Architecture Honor representative, graduate student Lucian Mirra was elected School of Education Honor representative, second-year student Deepa Patel was elected Nursing Honor representative, Robert Brown was elected Continuing and Professional Studies Honor representative and fourth-year student Hunter Wagenaar was elected Batten Honor representative — each position leaves one vacancy.
Second-year students Nabeel Raza and Peyton Hamlett and third-year student Lauren Kim were elected Judiciary College representatives.
Second-year student Austin Amacher and third-year student Gustavo Moreira were elected Judiciary Engineering representatives.
Second-year Hallie Rubenstein and third-year student Joria Le were elected Judiciary Nursing representatives.
Michael Baron and Jesse Zmick were elected Judiciary Continuing and Professional Studies representatives.
Graduate students Emmett Mercer and Jing Xu were elected Judiciary Darden representatives.
Third-year student Max Nardi was elected Judiciary Commerce representative, third-year Stella Connaughton was elected Judiciary Batten representative, graduate student Adam Younger was elected Judiciary Law representative and third-year student Jackson Key was elected Judiciary Architecture representative — each position has one seat vacant.
College students Kyle Woodson and Karina Reynolds were elected on a ticket together as Second Year Council president and vice president, respectively. The two served as president and vice president of the First Year Council.
College students Sophia Liao and Lara Arif were elected Third Year Council president and vice president, respectively. Liao previously served as president of Second Year Council.
For Fourth Year Trustees, College students Chloe Lyda and Emma Keller were elected president and vice president, respectively.
All four proposed referenda passed this year — three from Student Council and one from UJC. The Honor Committee chose not to introduce referenda, citing that it would be a “waste of time” due to typically low turnout. In past years, the average turnout for referenda has been about 8 percent.
Student Council’s first item introduced changes to its constitution, including modernizing language to implement gender-neutral pronouns, using the University’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights’ approved non-discrimination agreement and noting that students attending the University virtually can vote in elections. The item passed with 88.75 percent voting in favor.
The second item proposed the creation of two new student representative positions geared toward supporting international students. 88.67 percent voted in favor of this change.
Student Council’s third and final item passed with 84.4 percent voted in favor and proposed the creation of a new branch focused on consolidating student resources and services under one leader.
UJC passed its singular item, a proposed amendment to its constitution, with 85.63 percent voting in favor — the amendment includes changes to language to include gender expression, updated membership requirements and changing the number of votes required to pass an amendment.
Student Council President: Abel Liu
Student Council Vice President for Administration: Cecilia Cain
Student Council Vice President for Organizations: Ryan Cieslukowski
Student Council Arts & Sciences Undergraduate Representatives: Violette Cadet, Gabriela Hernandez, Nina Santana, Lillian Rojas, Lara Arif, Tyler Busch, Noah Strike, Booker Johnson, Tichara Robertson Lewis, Christian Ephriam, Ella Tynch, Ryan Alcorn
Student Council Arts & Sciences Graduate Representative: Alex Sheng
Student Council McIntire Undergraduate Representative: Adrian Mamaril
Student Council Continuing and Professional Studies Undergraduate Representative: Chanthang Oliver
Student Council Education Undergraduate Representative: Jay Moody
Student Council Engineering Undergraduate Representatives: Rithika Kormath Anand, Sarah Kirk, Joshua Franklin
Batten Undergraduate Student Council Representative: Rand Perry
Student Council Darden Representative: Isa Fortuno
Second Year Council
Second Year Council President: Kyle Woodson
Second Year Council Vice President: Karina Reynolds
Third Year Council
Third Year Council President: Sophia Liao Third Year Council Vice President: Lara Arif
Fourth Year Trustees
Fourth Year Trustees President: Chloe Lyda
Fourth Year Trustees Vice President: Emma Keller
Honor Committee Representatives
Honor College of Arts & Sciences Representatives: Gabrielle Bray, Amanda Chok, Anne Paulussen, Andrew Chambers, Christian Smith
Honor School of Education Representative: Lucian Mirra
Honor McIntire Representatives: Jack Stone, Maggie Regnery
Honor Architecture Representative: Caitlin Kreinheder
Honor Law Representatives: Meghan Wingert, Christopher Benos
Honor Nursing Representative: Deepa Patel
Honor Continuing and Professional Studies Representative: Robert Brown
Honor Batten Representative: Hunter Wagenaar
Honor Engineering Representatives: Anna Cuddeback, Christina Rodriguez
Honor Darden Representative: Mary Zack H’Doubler, Beau Muniz
University Judiciary Committee
Judiciary College of Arts & Sciences Representatives: Lauren Kim, Nabeel Raza, Peyton Hamlett
Judiciary Architecture Representative: Jackson Key
Judiciary Engineering Representatives: Austin Amacher, Gustavo Moreira
Judiciary Law Representative: Adam Younger
Judiciary Nursing Representatives: Hallie Rubenstein, Joria Le
Judiciary Continuing and Professional Studies Representatives: Michael Baron, Jesse Zmick
Judiciary Batten Representative: Stella Connaughton
Judiciary Commerce Representative: Max Nardi
Judiciary Darden Representatives: Emmett Mercer, Jing Xu
Architecture School Council
Architecture School Council President: Caitlin Kreinheder
Architecture School Council Vice President: Thomas Ryan
Architecture School Council Secretary: Emma Gallaugher
Architecture School Council Treasurer: Keita Heinrich
College Council President: Ian Smith
College Council Vice President: Sayli Satpute
College Council Secretary: Isabelle Pruiett
College Council Treasurer: vacant
Batten Undergraduate Council
Batten Undergraduate Council President: Ned Flanagan
Batten Undergraduate Council Director of Communications: Zoe Komodromos
Batten Undergraduate Council Treasurer: vacant
Batten Graduate Council
Batten Graduate Council President: Michael Pugh
Batten Graduate Council Secretary: Valery Schneider
Batten Graduate Council Treasurer: Savannah Rogers
Batten Graduate Council Special Events Chair: Kate Hastings
Batten Graduate Council Community Engagement Chair: Elizabeth Padhi
Commerce Council President: Ralph De Palma
Commerce Council Vice President: Matthew Smith
Commerce Council Treasurer: vacant
Education Council President: vacant
Education Council Treasurer: Arabella Lee
Education Council Vice President & Secretary: vacant
Education Council Professional Development and Scholarship Chair: vacant
Engineering Student Council
Engineering Student Council President: Golnar Mostashari
Engineering Student Council Vice President: vacant
Engineering Student Council Secretary: Isaac Heath
Engineering Student Council Treasurer: Christina George
Engineering Student Council Fourth Year Board President: vacant
Nursing Student Council
Nursing Student Council President: Zahra Alisa
Nursing Student Council Vice President: Emma Hearington
Nursing Student Council Secretary: Bridget Bechtloff
Nursing Student Council Diversity and Inclusion Chair: Milania Harris
Nursing Student Council Treasurer: Joria Le
Nursing Student Council Social Committee Chair: vacant
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that third-year College student Abel Liu is the first openly transgender student government president at a major public institution. This article has been amended with a statement from Liu's team.