Student Council’s representative body passed a resolution calling for the Virginia General Assembly to deny the confirmation of Board of Visitors member Bert Ellis this January and passed a bill amending the Student Activities Fee appropriations process during its general body meeting Tuesday.
Sponsored by third-year College student Reps. Tyler Busch and Violette Cadet, Gaby Hernandez, chair of the representative body and fourth-year College student and second-year College student Rep. Princess Olubuse-Omisore, the resolution cites several incidents that took place while Ellis was a student at the University. As chair of the University Union, Ellis supported the organization of a debate featuring eugenics supporter William Shockley and later pulled support for an event in collaboration with the Gay Student Union.
“The Student Council Representative Body calls for a holistic review of the replacement for Bert Ellis and future appointments by the governor to prevent such instances in the future,” the resolution reads.
As a new appointee, Ellis and the Board’s other three new members must be confirmed by the Virginia General Assembly, which will convene in January. Since his appointment, student groups and organizations have called for Ellis’ removal from the Board and encouraged students to contact their State Senator to block Ellis’ confirmation to the Board.
Student Council's Executive Board has also previously called for the resignation of Ellis, whose appointment they characterized as “reckless, ill-intentioned, and threatening to the safety of marginalized students at this University.”
The resolution also stipulates that the body should amend Student Council’s fall budget to allocate $5,000 to the Black Alumni Association — the same amount the Union spent to bring Shockley to Grounds, adjusted for inflation today.
The resolution passed with 14 yeas and one nay from third-year College student Rep. Nick Cabrera.
The representative body also considered a bill that would appoint third-year College student Christian Ephriam as director of coalition engagement, a position responsible for building and maintaining relationships with other groups and organizations on Grounds.
During public comment, Ben Ross, vice-chair of the Jewish Leadership Advisory Board at the Brody Jewish Center and third-year College student, thanked Student Council leadership for discussing and working with himself and other Jewish students in alleviating prior concerns surrounding Ephriam’s appointment.
Following public comment and the introduction of the resolution, some representatives said they had heard concerns from Jewish students who wished Ephriam would had met individually with members of the Jewish community. Ultimately, the representative body voted to table the bill so Ephriam could use the week to speak one-on-one to student leaders in the Jewish community before his official appointment.
Student Council holds general body meetings weekly at 6:30 p.m. in the South Meeting Room of Newcomb Hall.