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Student Council passes legislation proposing Edgemont Road construction, announces declining balance card system for CIOs

The Council also heard comments from Kenyon Bonner, vice president and chief student affairs officer

The resolution passed 25-1, with next steps including bringing the resolution to appropriate offices, including the Parking and Transportation Office and the Security and General Safety Office.
The resolution passed 25-1, with next steps including bringing the resolution to appropriate offices, including the Parking and Transportation Office and the Security and General Safety Office.

Student Council voted to pass legislation proposing safety-related projects on Edgemont Road and announced a declining balance card system for dispensing funds to Contracted Independent Organizations in a meeting Tuesday. The Council also heard comments from Kenyon Bonner, new vice president and chief student affairs officer.

Following routine reports from representatives and leadership, Student Council addressed resolution SR 24-01, a proposal from Chinmay Nair, third-year Engineering doctoral candidate and Graduate School of Engineering representative. 

Nair voiced concerns about street and safety conditions on Edgemont Road. The entire Edgemont Road loop connects several buildings including the Leander McCormick Observatory, the Environmental Sciences Shop Building and several laboratories, ending at the Aquatic and Fitness Center, where it intersects McCormick Road. 

“Some of the turns are very blind, so you can't see what's approaching,” Nair said. “If there's a car approaching, you can't see a pedestrian if he's walking … and all over this passage there's no screen lights — it's pitch black after dark.”

The proposal included several photos and videos, partially collected by his collaborator on the resolution, Christopher Joseph, director of student life and third-year Engineering student. Nair proposed that the Parking and Transportation Office work with the Security and General Safety Office to “build a sidewalk, post traffic signs and erect more lighting and safety devices on the Edgemont Road loop,” according to the legislation. 

Several members voiced concerns and questions regarding the legislation. Jason Almas, student council representative and third-year College student, raised the question of potential light pollution and asked if installing them would disturb the views for students and faculty utilizing the nearby Observatory. According to Nair, the new lighting would not impact views from the Observatory. 

Brian Ng, student council representative and first-year College student, said he was concerned about the potential environmental impact of the proposed construction, specifically regarding the cutting of trees. Ng asked if the resolution could be amended to include sustainability guidelines or if Nair could include sustainability in his conversations with the parking and safety offices.

Nair agreed that sustainability is important to consider when enacting the resolution. Tichara Robertson, Student Council president and fourth-year College student, said the sustainability issue did not necessarily require a separate amendment to the resolution and could instead be incorporated into future conversations. She added that Student Council resolutions are generally used to indicate student sentiment surrounding a particular issue.

“With legislation, you still have to bring it forward as ‘this is what the students think.’” Robertson said. “I think [sustainability] is definitely something that could be discussed later on once we're in conversations with parking and transportation.”

The resolution passed 25-1, with next steps including bringing the resolution to appropriate offices, including the Parking and Transportation Office and the Security and General Safety Office. 

Student Council also announced the planned launch of their Center Card Pilot Program, a measure that allows the University’s CIOs to switch from a reimbursement system of financing to a declining balance card, which CIOs can use to fund activities directly. According to Holly Sims, vice president for administration and Master of Public Policy candidate, the program will ensure students no longer pay out-of-pocket for CIO costs, instead providing CIO leaders with declining balance cards to cover expenses. 

“This is big,” Sims said. “This is something that if we can figure out, it will likely be adopted by every University in the country.”

Sims said that the cards will have certain usage regulations and that CIOs will not be able to use them to purchase alcohol or other illicit substances. She added that Student Council is currently in possession of roughly a dozen cards and that Council leadership will be personally testing them in the coming months with the aim of making the cards available on an application basis by the fall semester. 

Prior to their discussion of resolution SR 24-01 and the Center Card Pilot Program, Student Council heard from Kenyon Bonner. The University administration selected Bonner for the role of VPSA last semester, where he replaced Interim VPSA Christopher Holstege. After briefly introducing himself and discussing his duties as VPSA, Bonner spoke to the Council about his views on self-governance and collaboration with student leaders.

“It's been a wonderful opportunity to learn about U.Va. from a student perspective and also experience it from an administrative perspective,” Bonner said. “One of the things that attracted me to this position in U.Va. was the opportunity to work with all of you in student self-governance.”

According to Bonner, he has met with several other student leaders involved in student self-governance across Grounds. These meetings have included Hamza Aziz, Honor Committee chair and fourth-year College student, as well as Lillian Rojas, student member of the Board of Visitors, Student Council member and fourth-year Batten student. 

Bonnner said he has been staying updated with Student Council’s work and that he plans to collaborate with its members in the future as he continues to acclimate to his new role.

“I know you're in the midst of elections … and there'll be some leadership changes,” Bonner said. “I look forward to meeting other new students in the coming months and working with them.” 

Student Council is currently in the midst of its election cycle, with candidate registration having closed Sunday. Candidates will begin campaigning Monday, and the voting window will begin Feb. 26 and close Feb. 28.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly titled third-year College representative Jason Almas as a second-year. The article has since been updated to reflect this change.


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