The first two Student Council General Body meetings of the semester consisted of preparation for challenges due to turnover in Student Affairs administration. Leadership also held an interest fair for prospective applicants during Tuesday’s General Body meeting.
Senior leadership at the University has undergone a high amount of turnover in the past few years — the new interim dean of students Cedric Rucker and Vice President for Student Affairs Christopher Holstege replaced Robyn Hadley, former dean of students and vice president for student affairs, who left Charlottesville after only two years at the University.
With Hadley no longer at the University, the turnover has forced Student Council to reconsider strategies for how they present issues to administration to maintain strong relationships between the two groups, according to Tichara Robertson, Student Council president and fourth-year College student.
Roberston said that since Rucker and Holstege are in interim positions, she is unsure how committed they will be to certain projects due to the temporary nature of their roles. Instead, Robertson said that Student Council will need to be more “strategic about what departments to go to and how [they] bring up issues.”
Student Council looks to University administration in receiving funding for projects and when advocating for new policies. Robertson specifically mentioned concerns about Student Council’s ability to secure enough resources to fund initiatives such as Support and Access Services — a branch that directs resources towards students — due to the administrative turnover changing pre-existing relationships.
“We’re still looking for long-term funding for Student Council…that’s one thing we’ve been talking extensively about,” Robertson said. “I’m still figuring out how we’re going to work out fundraising for SAS.”
Robertson also said she anticipated potential challenges in funding free STI testing. While Holstege previously worked with Student Council on the initiative under his former role as executive director of Student Health and Wellness, Robertson still acknowledged that a flip in Holstege’s priorities by stepping into a new position may make it more difficult to pass that initiative through in the future.
Robertson said she remains optimistic about working with both of the new leaders, however, and meets bi-weekly with Rucker.
“[Rucker] also is…trying to get us to continue to work on our projects and really loves student self-governance,” Robertson said. “The message was, ‘I know a lot of things are happening with U.Va. admin[istration], but that doesn’t stop what we do as students.”’
Despite uncertainties regarding administrative turnover, Student Council continues to excitedly recruit new members. During Tuesday’s open General Body meeting, Holly Sims, vice president for administration and graduate Batten student, informed potential applicants about Student Council’s work as part of their recruitment cycle.
Sims said she was excited about interest levels during Student Council’s Aug. 24 information session and Aug. 25 Support and Access Services resource fair.
“We've had a lot of engagement in our in-person recruitment meetings, which makes me really happy to see,” Sims said.
Sims credited the Student Activities Fair — which Student Council organized to include over 500 CIOs this year — as an important way Student Council advertises their services and committees to students.
“Being able to say this was a Student Council event and point them to our table…it shows the scale of what we can do and what people can do and be a part of if they join Student Council,” Sims said.
Student Council still has more recruitment events for interested students —including an information session Thursday. Applications for Student Council close Sept. 1. Student Council’s General Body will meet Tuesdays this semester at 6:30 p.m. in Newcomb Hall’s South Meeting Room.