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Student Council representative body supports decentralized Memorial for Enslaved Laborers

The resolution issues formal support for a proposal originally written by fourth-year College student Hailey Barnett

<p>Fourth-year College student and Vice President for Administration Ceci Cain spoke in favor of the legislation.</p>

Fourth-year College student and Vice President for Administration Ceci Cain spoke in favor of the legislation.

Student Council voted in favor of a resolution calling for the support of the construction of a decentralized Memorial for Enslaved Laborers during its general body meeting Tuesday night. The resolution issues formal support for a proposal originally written by fourth-year College student Hailey Barnett and was passed with 16 votes in favor, zero votes against and one abstention.

Before the representative body began legislative session, Booker Johnson, director of coalition engagement and third-year College student, provided public comment in favor of the resolution. The resolution supports the creation of a decentralized memorial to enslaved laborers throughout Grounds modeled after a system used by Holocaust memorials throughout Europe.

Booker acknowledged Barnett’s work on the project thus far, including research and coalition building as a student, and emphasized that he sees this student-led process as central to telling the history of the University community. 

“I just urge the representative body to support this [because it provides] public acknowledgement and remembrance of enslaved people both in Charlottesville and at the University,” Johnson said.

Ceci Cain, vice president for administration and fourth-year College student, also spoke in favor of the legislation and focused on the ways in which the memorial’s decentralized nature could begin to balance some of the legacies of hierarchy built into the University’s landscape.

“I'm really glad to see more visual [acknowledgement] on Grounds, and in the same way that we still have statues of Thomas Jefferson, it’s important to have physical [acknowledgment of] who actually physically built this University and all of the things that they did that brought us all to today,” Cain said.

The proposal has yet to officially reach the University administration. Abel Liu, president of Student Council and fourth-year College student, suggested that the proposal should gain additional coalition support before doing so.

Student Council meetings are held every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The next meeting will be held in person in the South Meeting Room in Newcomb Hall and will be live-streamed through Student Council’s website.

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