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What's on the ballot in the 2021 University-wide student elections?

Beyond races for Student Council President and Vice President, there are other important contents and initiatives

<p>Voting for student government elections will be live from Wednesday at 10 a.m. to Friday at 4 p.m. Once voting begins, students can access the <a href="https://studentelections.virginia.edu/spring-2021-voting-ballot-status"><u>ballot</u></a> by clicking on the orange “VOTE” button at the top of the Student Elections page.</p>

Voting for student government elections will be live from Wednesday at 10 a.m. to Friday at 4 p.m. Once voting begins, students can access the ballot by clicking on the orange “VOTE” button at the top of the Student Elections page.

There is more on the University Elections ballot this semester than just the race for Student Council president. Candidates’ positions on Student Council, the Honor Committee, the University Judiciary Committee, School Councils and Class Councils are up for election. Four referenda from Student Council and UJC are also awaiting student votes.

Voting for student government elections will be live from Wednesday at 10 a.m. to Friday at 4 p.m. Once voting begins, students can access the ballot by clicking on the orange “VOTE” button at the top of the Student Elections page.

Referenda

Four referenda are on the ballot — three from Student Council and one from UJC. Unlike in previous years, Honor chose not to introduce referenda this semester, citing the fact that drafting an initiative would be a “waste of time” given that the referenda rarely receive the 10 percent student turnout that Honor and UJC referenda need in order to pass.

“We were hoping to have a policy on the ballot to change the [Informed Retraction] or go to a more multi-sanction system, but we ended up deciding not to for a number of reasons,” said Ryan Keane, fourth-year Batten student and Honor Committee president. 

Honor’s Constitution requires that 10 percent of the eligible voting population vote in favor of a proposed amendment for it to pass and three-fifths of the voters in the referendum vote in favor. UJC only requires that 10 percent of the voting population vote — not necessarily in favor — on the proposed amendment. Student Council requires only that two-thirds of those voting must vote in favor of the amendment.

Unlike Honor, Student Council did opt to introduce three referenda.

Student Council’s first proposed item is modernization of its Constitution, which has not been updated since 2009. The proposed changes update the Constitution to make note that students attending U.Va. virtually can vote in elections, implementing to gender-neutral pronouns in its language, using the University’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights’ approved non-discrimination agreement and add language formally allowing members of the University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies to participate in Student Council.

In Student Council’s second proposal, students will have the opportunity to vote on the creation of two Student representative positions that are geared towards assisting international students. These positions would be created with the goal of appointing student representatives who seek to expand global education and support international students. The representatives are not required to be international students themselves.

Student Council’s third proposed item would create a new branch focused on student outreach, which would consolidate student resources and services, such as U.Va. Mutual Aid and the community food pantry, under one leader. 

The Student Council president would be in charge of appointing officers and staff to provide these student-focused services, and the student service provision would be supervised by a chief of support and access services.

The University Judiciary Committee is proposing an amendment to their constitution that would update its non-discrimination and equal opportunity agreements to include gender expression. 

The proposed amendment would also significantly update membership requirements.  Should the amendment pass, candidates for UJC would be required to complete one semester of school on Grounds and be in good academic standing with their school. Additionally, representatives would no longer have to be full-time students, meaning enrolled in at least 12 course hours — instead, they would just have to be in good academic standing as defined by their school. 

The proposed changes to the amendment process would change the number of votes needed to pass an amendment — an amendment would now need a two-thirds vote with four-fifths of Representatives in attendance, rather than the current requirement for a two-thirds vote of everyone in the committee. 

The proposal also distinguishes between amendments and minor amendments, defining minor amendments as “one which has no significant or substantive impact on the Committee’s jurisdiction of powers or an accused student’s rights,” such as changes in grammar and language. Minor amendments would require a unanimous vote to be passed.

Elected positions

While many candidates are running uncontested for their positions, there are numerous competitive races throughout all student government organization’s elections.

Two candidates are running for the office of Student Council president — third-year College students Abel Liu and Gavin Oxley. The two participated in a debate Monday night, and UBE is currently investigating allegations of campaign violations by some supporters of Oxley’s campaign.

Second-year College student Ryan Cieslukowski is running unopposed for vice president for organizations and third-year College student Cecilia Cain is the sole candidate for vice president for administration. Cieslukowski and Cain are running on a ticket with Liu. 

Twenty-three candidates are running for 12 positions as the Arts and Sciences undergraduate Student Council representative. Members of the representative body are responsible for drafting and passing legislation and advocating on the behalf of the students they serve.  Five representatives are running for reelection — second-year College student Rep. Gabriela Hernandez, third-year College student Rep. Ryan Alcorn, first-year College student Rep. Nickolaus Cabrera, first-year College student Rep. Akshitha Kalavakonda and first-year College student Rep. Ryan Conn. 

Last year, at least 12 representative positions were left vacant after elections. Outside of the race for College of Arts and Sciences representative, only two schools have contested elections — the Continuing/Professional Studies undergraduate Student Council representative, which has two candidates running for one position, and the Engineering Undergraduate Student Council Representative, which has four candidates running for three positions.

In a more competitive election, 13 candidates are running for three positions as College of Arts and Sciences judiciary representatives. Only three candidates ran the year prior. Elected UJC representatives serve as judges during UJC trials and are also responsible for developing UJC policy and procedure. No other school-specific races are contested for judiciary representatives.

Elections for Class Council are largely competitive as well.

First-year College students Kyle Woodson and Caleb Macey are running against each other to be Second-Year Council president.

Woodson, who previously served as First-Year Council president, is running with first-year College student Karina Reynolds, who previously served as First-Year Council vice president. Reynolds is running against first-year College students Ben Koen and Jack Murphy for the position of Second-Year Council vice president.

Second-year College students Anisa Mohamed and Sophia Liao are both running for Third-Year Council president. Liao is currently serving as the president of Second-Year Council while Mohamed is serving as Second-Year Council vice president.

Third-year College students Jennifer Lin and Chloe Lyda are both running to be Fourth-Year Trustees president. 

All races for College Council are uncontested.

Pruiett is also running against second-year College student Sayli Satpute for College Council vice president and is running unopposed for College Council secretary.

Other competitive elections include the races for Commerce Council president and vice president, Batten Graduate Student Council president, Engineering Undergraduate student representative, and Nursing School Council president, vice president and treasurer.

Thirty-three of the elections are uncontested. Every election has someone running for the position, although some positions will only be half-filled. Last year, 29 seats were left vacant after elections.

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