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Student Council discusses 2022 spring budget, hears presentation from UVA Mutual Aid

Student Council discussed key features of the new budget, including honoraria for guest speakers in student taught classes and Diversity Grants

<p>Student Council also heard a committee spotlight from Sarandon Elliott, director of<a href="https://www.uvastudco.com/uva-mutual-aid"><u> U.Va. Mutual Aid</u></a> and fourth-year College student.</p>

Student Council also heard a committee spotlight from Sarandon Elliott, director of U.Va. Mutual Aid and fourth-year College student.

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Student Council discussed its spring budget and heard an update from U.Va. Mutual Aid during its second general body meeting of the semester Tuesday. 

The meeting began with updates from the Executive Board, which was interrupted briefly due to an evacuation of Newcomb Hall due to a fire alarm. Abel Liu, president of Student Council and fourth-year College student, was unable to attend Tuesday's meeting.

Holly Sims, chief of cabinet and third-year Batten student, then provided an update on University Transit programs available to students which include Night Pilot — a bus route that provides rides for University community members from 10 p.m. to midnight — and the OnDemand transportation system, a fare-free van shuttle service that picks up riders from approximately 50 different “hubs” around Grounds and takes them to their requested stop on demand.

Students have previously expressed frustration with UTS, especially regarding availability of safe transportation at night — last semester, reduced their capacity and modified routes to limit the number of individuals on each bus at one time and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

Student Council also heard a committee spotlight from Sarandon Elliott, director of U.Va. Mutual Aid and fourth-year College student. Mutual Aid offers no strings attached financial grants to students and was co-founded by Liu in March 2020 following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Elliott began by defining the concept of mutual aid in light of a definition written by Dean Spade, trans activist and professor of law at Seattle University School of Law. 

“Mutual aid is about organizing for better material conditions,” Elliot said. “Particularly, organizing for better material conditions for the multiracial working class.”

In response to student concerns about a lack of personal protective equipment provided by the University, U.Va. Mutual Aid has been fundraising for and distributing KN95 masking kits and personal protective equipment to students and workers.

The group then entered legislative session, during which Ceci Cain, vice president for administration and fourth-year Batten student, then introduced SB22-02, a bill to approve the 2022 spring budget. Cain said she hopes the budget achieves several goals.

“A lot of our administration’s focus was on equity, equitable funding and making sure gaps in the student experience [are] met,” Cain said.

After introducing the budget, Cain introduced Jaden Evans, director of finance and third-year College student, who outlined the proposed spring budget. 

The proposed budget totaled $181,706, with $172,286.00 coming from student activities fees. All students pay a $50 student activity fee to attend the University, which is included in the cost of tuition. In the fall, the total budget was $141,115, with $129,190 coming from SAF funding. $9,419 of the proposed budget comes from non-SAF funding. 

Approximately $62,000 of the proposed budget was funding reallocated from the fall budget. This leftover money in the budget from last semester is indicative of the administration’s goal to raise spending rates this semester in order to further support students and the University community. 

During the meeting, third-year Education student Rep. Ella Tynch expressed a desire to direct more funding towards initiatives such as custodial staff appreciation. Cain reminded the entire representative body that it is able to amend the budget during upcoming meetings. 

With no objections or questions from other representatives, the budget was tabled. Cain expressed her appreciation for all involved and expressed admiration for what she viewed as a “historic” budget. 

“I want to give a quick thank you to everyone who worked on that budget,” Cain said. “Truly, if you look at past budgets … these are really unprecedented budgets that we’re passing with really unprecedented things.”

The next Student Council meeting will be held Feb. 8 via Zoom, and a livestream can be found on their website

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