Student Council’s legislative body voted to support the Native American Student Union’s proposed Student Center for Native American and Indigenous Students during its general body meeting Tuesday.
Beyond voicing support for a physical space, the resolution supports NASU’s requests for a space reflective of the Native American and Indigenous students it was designed to serve — specifically a space with windows, indoor plants, easy access to an outside area with greenery, Indigenous art and other decor from a diverse array of cultures and an Eastern-facing door, which is of cultural significance to the Navajo Nation.
This resolution was sponsored by Gaby Hernandez, chair of the representative body and fourth-year College student, second-year Nursing student Rep. Emily Nguyen, fourth-year Architecture student Rep. Sabiya Davis, fourth-year Batten student Rep. Aayushma Bastola, third-year College student Rep. Lillian Rojas and third-year College student Rep. Tyler Busch.
During the period of public comment prior to voting on the legislation, Student Council heard comments from Anthony Guevara, vice president of NASU and fourth-year College student, as well as Joseph Lilly, chief financial officer of NASU and second-year Architecture student. Both spoke to the importance of having a physical space for Native American and indigenous students on Grounds.
“This legislation is modeled heavily after our NASU constitution, where we wish it to be a space that respects our beliefs, inclusivity of Indigenous cultures from across the Americas and a space that is open and accessible to any Native student, or those that wish to share the love for our community,” Guevara said.
Lilly reflected on his experience of not feeling welcome on Grounds.
“Coming to U.Va., you’re surrounded by architecture that is so focused on colonialism,” Lilly said. “There deserves to be a space … [better suited to] Native American students.”
This resolution was met with applause from many members of the legislative body upon its unanimous passage.
The Council also heard a presentation from Dr. Toya Corbett, associate vice president for strategic initiatives, who spoke on what she called “phase one” of the renovation of Newcomb Hall. The plans involve painting the walls orange and blue and adding University branding because many tours of Grounds go through Newcomb.
The representative body also tabled two bills — changes to the by-laws of the Student Activities Fee Appropriations process and the fall semester budget — to be voted on at the next meeting.
Student Council holds general body meetings Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. in Newcomb Hall.