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Student Council introduces annual budget, tables resolution on YAF 9/11 memorial vandalism

An investigation confirmed that there was no vandalism at the site of the 9/11 Never Forget Project

The proposed budget’s total was $194,495, $184,470 of which comes from Student Activities Fee funding and $10,025 of which comes from non-SAF funding.
The proposed budget’s total was $194,495, $184,470 of which comes from Student Activities Fee funding and $10,025 of which comes from non-SAF funding.

Student Council introduced and discussed its proposed budget and tabled legislation about the alleged vandalization of a 9/11 memorial constructed by Young Americans for Freedom at U.Va. during its general body meeting Tuesday.

A resolution denouncing alleged vandalism of the “9/11 Never Forget Project” memorial sponsored by Rep. Lillian Rojas, second-year College student, was tabled after an investigation confirmed that there was in fact no vandalism at the site. 

Ben Rexrode, crime prevention coordinator for the University Police Department, explained in an email statement to The Cavalier Daily that UPD reviewed video footage at the site after receiving a complaint about vandalism and determined this was a “false alarm, as the flags were knocked over by the wind. A table, which was suspected to have been intentionally turned over by a student, had also incidentally fallen. 

“Based on a complete review of the video evidence, there is no factual basis to support the allegation that any flags on display were vandalized,” Rexrode said. 

Rexrode said after receiving the investigation results, the same complainants raised another issue with regard to a sign that had gone missing from the memorial. The sign has since been returned, but UPD is still looking into the new incident. 

After tabling the resolution, Student Council moved on to discuss the proposed budget, which was presented by Jaden Evans, director of finance and third-year College student. Because the budget will be voted on next week, this meeting was the last opportunity to make changes. 

The proposed fall budget’s total was $194,495, with $184,470 coming from Student Activities Fee funding and $10,025 coming from non-SAF funding. All students at the University pay a $50 annual student activities fee, which Student Council allocates. Last year’s fall budget was $30,752.94, and Student Council’s summer 2021 budget was $150,994.

Proposed funding will be distributed among Student Council’s five branches, including the Presidential Cabinet Agency, the Administrative Committee, the recently-created Support and Access Services, the Organizations Committee and the Representative Body.

This year’s proposed budget includes a few “hallmark and unprecedented” items, said Abel Liu, president of Student Council and fourth-year College student.

Student Council’s Financial Accessibility Committee aims to increase accessibility to financial counselors at the University by encouraging SFS to establish weekly financial office hours. In another effort to improve SFS policies, the committee also plans to seek to remove the required College Scholarship Service profile non-custodial parent waiver and supporting documents. 

“This [waiver] creates an unnecessary barrier and can cause distress for students who do not have contact with their non-custodial parent,” the budget reads. 

Other efforts by the Financial Accessibility Committee include lowering non-tuition costs of attendance for students by allocating $425 to subsidize 200 loads worth of laundry and to fund 1000 pages of printing. 

Student Council also plans to increase funding towards the Next Steps Fund to twice its original levels, a program that subsidizes payment for the first two sessions with an outpatient Charlottesville community therapist. Under the proposed budget, funding for the Next Steps Fund will increase to $10,000.

Student Council’s Legislative Affairs Committee plans to allocate $1,500 towards transportation funding for early voting, as well as $350 towards get out the vote efforts and resources.

As a result of low utilization of Student Activities Fee funding by CIOs during the COVID-19 pandemic, Student Council has access to a surplus of $100,000 in funding, the allocation of which they intend to place in the hands of the entire student body at the University through a “democratic, multi-stage participatory budgeting process.” 

Also highlighted during the budget presentation was the $19,000 in proposed funding that will be allocated towards Student Council’s University Networks of Care program — a police-free crisis intervention program designed to remove UPD officers from non-violent interventions and instead dispatch counselors and medics. 

Liu said the program is “the brainchild of many organizations” and is currently being developed in partnership with the Black Student Alliance, undocUVA, Political Latinx United for Movement and Action in Society, Housing and Residence Life, the Equity Center and U.Va. Safety and Security.

A survey conducted in fall 2020 that sought to better understand students’ reactions to police intervention in dorm settings indicated that experiencing a police intervention was “very traumatic” for many students, Liu said. 

Student Council also plans to run its Airbus program again for Thanksgiving and winter break, which will provide low-cost transportation for students to Richmond and Washington, D.C. airports. A total of $3,670 in funding has been allocated to this program. Student Council previously used its Airbus program to transport international students to the University ahead of the fall semester.

The budget outlines other measures that will enhance the student experience through arts funding, student programming, diversity grants and community building efforts. It will be voted on during next week’s general body meeting.

Student Council meets weekly on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. in Newcomb Hall. Meetings can be attended in-person and are also accessible through a livestream.

A previous version of this article misstated that Student Council’s fall 2020 budget was $163,652. The article has been updated to reflect that the fall 2020 budget was $30,752.94, and the summer budget was $150,994. 

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