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“The Voice Movement” talks increasing CIO funding, transparency during candidate forum

Candidates agreed on the importance of expanding Student Council’s three-year $750,000 endowment

<p>The election began Monday and will be open through Wednesday.</p>

The election began Monday and will be open through Wednesday.

The three Student Council candidates of The Voice Movement advocated for increasing Contracted Independent Organization funding and community engagement in a forum jointly hosted by The Cavalier Daily and The University Board of Elections Sunday. The ticket includes Valentina Mendoza Gonzalez, Student Council director of coalition engagement and third-year Batten student, Brookelyn Mitchell, Student Council chief of cabinet and third-year College student and Ryan Bowers, Student Council appropriations committee co-chair and third-year Commerce student.

Mendoza Gonzalez is running against third-year Engineering student Tyler Jones for the position of Student Council president, while Mitchell and Bowers, who are seeking the positions of Student Council vice president for administration and Student Council vice president for organizations respectively, are running unopposed.

The Cavalier Daily and UBE jointly host an annual debate between Student Council presidential candidates. Because Jones did not attend this year’s debate, the event was redesigned to be a forum for Mendoza Gonzalez, Mitchell and Bowers to share more about The Voice Movement’s platform.

In addition to maintaining current Student Council services, Mendoza Gonzalez said she wants to create a visitation program for high school seniors from underrepresented groups to visit the University and see its diversity for themselves. She cited the wide range of multicultural CIOs as one example of diverse student expression on Grounds, adding that as a Latina immigrant, she wants to create an experience at the University where every student’s voice is not only heard, but celebrated.

“Student self-governance, while powerful, is inherently flawed,” Mendoza Gonzalez said. “We need to dive deep into the systemic issues that don’t allow every student to have a special and unique University experience and ask how we can demand from our institutions to protect, to fight [for] and support us.”

The candidates also discussed expanding Student Council’s $750,000 endowment to better fund its Support and Access Services branch, which oversees services such as Student Legal Services and Airbus, which provides bus transportation from Charlottesville to airports in Washington, D.C. and Richmond. President Jim Ryan announced in November that $250,000 in discretionary funds will be allocated to Student Council annually for the next three years, with much of the funding directed towards SAS. 

Bowers said it is important for Student Council to make a long-term plan to ensure endowment funds continue past the current three-year window.

“Ensuring that Support and Access Services … are maintained over a long period of time and benefit students beyond our years of experience is truly essential for Student Council to achieve its mission,” Bowers said.

The forum also included discussion of the University’s financial accessibility, with Mitchell stating that if elected vice president for administration, she would investigate whether the University provides students with sufficient need-based aid. 

“As [University administrators] analyze our tuition and consider increasing it, it’s really important that students from disadvantaged backgrounds still have [the financial aid] that they need to attend this University,” Mitchell said.

According to the Student Financial Services website, the University matches 100 percent of applicants’ financial need.

Candidates also discussed student engagement with student self-government proceedings. Bowers said that while overall engagement has been high, many clubs that wish to obtain funding from Student Council do not know how to do so. He said that if elected, he would expand the role of the CIO Consultants Committee — which assists CIOs during the process of applying for funds. Instead of focusing solely on helping CIOs at the Fall and Spring Activities Fairs, Bowers said that he would expand the CIO consultants service to make it more readily-accessible throughout the year to help CIOs understand the resources available to them.

Voting began Monday and will be open until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. Students can learn more about this year’s candidates for Student Council president through The Cavalier Daily’s presidential candidate profiles. Students can vote on candidates and ballot measures through a link sent to their University email addresses.


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