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Collective Administration looks to fill vacant positions

After the legislative body approved a number of appointments at last week’s meeting, the Collective Administration looks to fill final spots

<p>Both the director of coalition engagement and director of mutual aid positions remain vacant.</p>

Both the director of coalition engagement and director of mutual aid positions remain vacant.

The Collective Administration is currently in the process of appointing and pursuing final members of its leadership team. While a number of positions were officially approved by the legislative body during last week’s general body meeting, many positions remain vacant this week and others remain in the interview and evaluation stages.

Ceci Cain, president of Student Council and fourth-year College student, said she has been pleased with the applicants so far and hopes to fill two remaining leadership positions — director of coalition engagement and director of mutual aid — with other skilled candidates. 

“We've had really incredible applicants, and there are a couple of positions that are kind of unique in their scope,” Cain said. “We’re looking for people with really specific skills and connections that align with a lot of projects that we want this position to take on in the next year.”

The director of coalition engagement is responsible for the establishment and maintenance of advisory boards — such as the student dining advisory board and University police accountability board — as well as working alongside other CIOs in advocacy and administrative work.

The director of mutual aid is a position that works to maintain the various components and upkeep of the recently established Support and Access Services Branch, which provides students financial support, medical support, food and other tangible goods. U.Va. Mutual Aid offers no-strings-attached grants to students and was first created at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

Cain credited Booker Johnson, former director of coalition engagement and third-year College student, and Sarandon Elliot, former director of mutual aid and fourth-year College student, as being integral in the search for appointees to these positions. 

“We’ve had incredible directors this past year … we're very honored to have them, and they're both helping them in their search to fill both of those positions,” Cain said. “I think [these positions are] vital to the work we do in the next year.”

When speaking about the ongoing search process, Cain said she hopes to see candidates who genuinely represent the diversity that exists within the University community. Cain also encouraged any student — regardless of experience — to apply, as she is mainly interested in students who share a common set of values.

“It's really important to me that [my administration] is genuinely representative,” Cain said. “Even if you don't have experience, don't let that kind of be the roadblock to you applying … we're really looking for someone with the right passion.”

Cain also oversaw the approval of the appointment of graduate student Thomas Wyatt to the position of Director of the Graduate Affairs Agency during the meeting — a move Cain views as a hopeful first step towards strengthening Student Council’s relationship with the graduate community.

“I think one of the things that Student Council doesn't do particularly well is engage grad students in the work that we do, and [I] actually feel a lot of alignment in the things that we want to do with grad students,” Cain said. 

This appointment was approved on a vote of 13 yes votes and two abstentions via proxy on behalf of first-year College Student Princess Olubuse-Omisore and Gabriela Hernandez, chair of the representative body and third-year College student — both of whom were unable to attend the meeting.

Student Council also discussed SB 22-17 — a bill to create a director of funding reform and support. This position would be tasked with assisting the vice president of organizations with an inward-facing examination of Student Council’s funding practices and would also work to develop solutions to improve the existing reimbursement model for organizations. 

The legislative body discussed this bill last week, when Cain defended the necessity of the position. This week, Cain offered an amendment to the proposal, making the position a temporary position that would require renewal next year. 

Before voting on the amendment or hearing the presentation of the bill, the legislative body heard a comment from Ryan Cieslukowski, former vice president for organizations and third-year Batten student, on the need to create a separate funding position. 

Cieslukowki discussed some of the problems facing the branch — a heavy reliance on reimbursement to fund student organizations, confusing bureaucratic and administrative funding practices and the large workload involved in managing all CIOs at the University — which make it particularly difficult to overhaul the reimbursement process without an additional position.

“That's actually one of the reasons why we weren't really able to make any of these big changes last year, because once the fall and spring semester started …what I thought was a pretty solid appropriations team just spent so much time making sure that the process was actually functioning,” Cieslukowski said.

This bill was tabled at the end of legislative session, per a rule requiring the final version of any bylaw bill to be heard twice before receiving a vote, and thus will be voted on at the general body meeting next Tuesday. 

The Collective Administration will continue their search for candidates, and Cain hopes to see all the positions filled soon to begin working together on projects.

“There are a couple other positions that are still open — and we’re searching for the right person for — so I'd be more than happy to source applicants from across the school and fill these by the beginning of summer so we can really hit the ground running,” Cain said.

The meeting also included a presentation from Cain on her vision for Student Council this upcoming semester. Cain outlined several goals, including the long-term integration of the Support and Access Services branch into Student Affairs, creating scholarships for descendants of enslaved laborers and continuing the renovation of the Student Activities Center in order to turn it into a hub for student resources. 

Cain concluded by affirming her faith in the team that now makes up Student Council and its ability to realize these goals.

“I think that a lot of our leadership and reps are the perfect people to bring us into this new era of student governance, so that's really exciting,” Cain said.