The Cavalier Daily
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EDITORIAL: Vote for Student Council representatives that will uplift student voices

The Editorial Board endorses four candidates running for Student Council representative

<p>Each of these candidates demonstrated a commitment to expanding accessibility to resources and provided realistic steps for increasing student engagement.</p>

Each of these candidates demonstrated a commitment to expanding accessibility to resources and provided realistic steps for increasing student engagement.

This year, the Cavalier Daily Editorial Board endorses two candidates running as College of Arts and Sciences representatives for Student Council — second-year Jason Almas and second-year Andreas Masiakos. In addition, we endorse one candidate running for Student Council School of Education and Human Development representative — third-year Makana Brooks — and one candidate running for Student Council Batten representative, third-year Lillian Rojas. Each of these candidates demonstrated a commitment to expanding accessibility to resources and provided realistic steps for increasing student engagement. Most importantly, each candidate emphasized their dedication to prioritizing student needs such as mental health resources and financial aid.

Almas is running to ensure that various unmet needs within the student body are addressed. He is focused particularly on increasing dining options to support students with dietary restrictions, expanding the amount of counselors and their diversity in Counseling & Psychological Services and switching from the current MobileID system to make ID access more accessible for students. Almas also wants to increase Student Council’s accessibility to students, which would look like concise weekly updates in place of the current email system and actively engaging with the student body to solicit their feedback. Almas recognizes the importance of welcoming diverse perspectives, and he has vowed to come to meetings as an advocate for students. He believes that the Student Council should function as an open and communicative body that provides tangible benefits for students — we couldn’t agree more. 

Masiakos' two years in Student Council have afforded him the experience necessary to successfully represent the needs of students on Grounds. He recently sponsored and helped pass a resolution calling for the implementation of a Payment in Lieu of Taxes program between U.Va. and the City of Charlottesville, which calls for the University to invest money in public schools and affordable housing projects. Masiakos is running to advocate for the passage of this PILOT program by working with key stakeholders like City Council, the University administration and the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. Masiakos also has focused on providing day-to-day services for students, like free opt-in period products initiative and free STI screenings through Student Health & Wellness. Masiakos has also emphasized the importance of mentoring younger staff to ensure Student Council’s current work can continue past the current term. Masiakos is dedicated to the student body and we believe that his advocacy for a PILOT program will benefit both U.Va. and the greater Charlottesville community — we’re especially curious to see how he continues in these efforts. 

Brooks is focused on uplifting marginalized students, improving the quality of life for the University student body and acknowledging the interests of students. Her approach to reaching out is more bottom-up than top-down — she plans to engage students by sending out weekly or monthly surveys to provide room for feedback and increasing physical marketing such as posters, fliers and QR codes. Brooks also wants to platform voices of underrepresented students in the School of Education, especially lower-income, Black, Indigenous and students of color and LGBTQ+ students. Brooks’ advanced familiarity with the community she intends to serve gives us confidence that her efforts to meet these goals will be successful, and we look forward to seeing increased outreach and representation within the School of Education as a result of her term if elected.

Rojas is currently the chair of the representative body, running for representative again — she has served as a Student Council rep since her first year at the University. She aims to focus on uplifting other representatives and making a difference within the University community. Some of her previous projects which she hopes to continue to work on implementing are laundry relief aid for all Pell-eligible students, free STI screenings and free menstrual products in first-year dorms. One of the most notable goals on Rojas’ ballot is mentoring — she is dedicated to getting new representatives oriented faster for a more effective Student Council. Rojas is dedicated to making voices heard, both within Student Council and outside of it, so she hopes to continue building long standing relationships with Contracted Independent Organizations and increasing knowledge and transparency of Student Council for all students. She is passionate, driven and well-experienced on the Student Council — we hope to see her carry out all of her goals.

The Cavalier Daily will release its endorsement for Student Council President, Vice President for Administration and Vice President for Organizations after it hosts the candidates for a debate at 6 p.m. on Monday, February 27. The event will be virtual and live streamed to The Cavalier Daily's Facebook page. You can submit questions in advance through The Cavalier Daily’s social media or access our form here.