The elections for Student Council, the Honor Committee and the University Judiciary Committee are fast approaching — voting begins March 2 and ends March 4. These elections should remain salient in the minds of the student body. Voting every election cycle is crucial to the preservation of the University’s student self-governance. However, this voting period is especially important. This spring’s ballot addresses a multitude of pertinent issues. We applaud students for last year’s high voting turnout of 41.6 percent, which was a vast improvement from the 10.03 percent the previous year. Nevertheless, this number still only accounts for less than half of the student population. This year, we must dedicate ourselves to doing better. Students, ensure your voice is heard — vote.
One portion of the ballot will ask students to decide who they would like to represent them on Student Council. Abel Liu, president of Student Council and fourth-year College student, will not be on the ballot again this spring. Last year, Liu was elected with 81.2 percent of the vote and his election brought out more than four times the amount of students than in the year prior. There is no doubt that some portion of this turnout was related to the personal attacks and misinformation surrounding the campaign cycle — but it shouldn’t take controversy for us to vote. Since being in office, the current administration has demonstrated the powerful impact that Student Council can have on the lives of students. From eliminating police presence in non-violent mental health crises to easing the burden of required health insurance for low-income students, Liu’s administration has made remarkable progress. Students, harness this newly-realized power of Student Council and vote for officials that will protect and fight for the rights of your fellow students.
Student elections are also critically important to the future of the Honor Committee. This past year, the Honor Committee has been essentially inactive, as low attendance and a lack of virtual options barred any substantial progress. For instance, the upcoming referenda — which proposes changing the single-sanction policy of the Honor Committee from expulsion to a two-semester leave of absence — was only brought to a student-wide vote through petition, not through Committee action. As a student body, we are entitled to elected officials that stand by their promises, represent our interests and preserve democracy. The current Honor Committee has not lived up to these expectations. Vote in the upcoming election to hold its members accountable.
The single sanction referenda provides yet another example of the necessity for a politically active student body. In order for a referenda to pass, at least 10 percent of the eligible voting population must vote — regardless of the percent of the vote the referenda receives. In 2019, referendums regarding both the Honor Committee and UJC failed due to a lack of voter turnout. This spring, vote on the Honor referendum — amendments should not fail simply due to voter apathy.
UJC will also play a key role in the upcoming elections and the lives of students on Grounds. From data collected in the organization’s 2021 demographic survey, white students made up 63 percent of the UJC representatives — seven percent higher than the percentage of white students at the University. Similarly, while 6.8 percent of the University student body identify as Black or African American, Black students only make up 4 percent of UJC representatives. The makeup of UJC representatives should reflect the demographics of students on Grounds. Moreover, considering that half of last fall’s UJC cases dealt with violations of COVID-19 policies, we must recognize who is in control of deciding the consequences for these individuals. With all this in mind, students — use your vote in March to elect a UJC that is an accurate representation of the demographics of the student body.
Each and every student at the University is affected by the policies introduced and implemented by these organizations — with marginalized students disproportionately impacted. For instance — Black, Asian and international students are targeted in Honor reports, marginalized students are underrepresented in UJC and it is often marginalized students that are supported by Student Council’s services. These are but a few of many examples. Looking back on this past year, we implore you to keep in mind the work of each of these organizations and make a well-informed decision. Student elections are the backbone of student democracy. Make your voice heard — vote.
The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board is composed of the Executive Editor, the Editor-in-Chief, the two Opinion Editors, their Senior Associate and an Opinion Columnist. The board can be reached at email@example.com.