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Valentina Mendoza Gonzalez inaugurated as 2024-25 Student Council President

At Sunday’s ceremony, new Student Council leadership was ushered in and outgoing leadership reflected on their accomplishments

<p>Members of the outgoing executive board reflected on major accomplishments of the 2023-24 term, such as sucessfully advocating for the renaming of Alderman Library to Shannon Library.</p>

Members of the outgoing executive board reflected on major accomplishments of the 2023-24 term, such as sucessfully advocating for the renaming of Alderman Library to Shannon Library.

Student Council representatives welcomed third-year Batten student Valentina Mendoza Gonzalez, third-year College student Brookelyn Mitchell and third-year Commerce student Ryan Bowers — Student Council president, vice president for administration and vice president for organizations, respectively — into their new roles at a transition ceremony in the Rotunda’s Dome Room Sunday. 

Other Student Council representatives that had been elected to the general body in the recent student elections were also inaugurated. Additionally, members of the outgoing executive board reflected on major accomplishments of the 2023-24 term, including creating a three-year, $750,000 endowment and successfully advocating for the renaming of Alderman Library to Shannon Library.

Mendoza Gonzalez was inaugurated by Tichara Robertson, outgoing Student Council president and fourth-year College student. In her remarks, Mendoza Gonzalez spoke about her commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity at the University.

“Each and every [student] has a unique voice at the table,” Mendoza Gonzalez said. “It’s through embracing these differences that we can truly begin to shape the University that serves and supports us all.”

Promoting inclusion was also a major campaign point for Mendoza Gonzalez, who ran as part of a ticket dubbed “The Voice Movement,” alongside Mitchell and Bowers. The ticket’s major points included increasing funding to Student Council’s Support and Access Services branch — which manages programs such as Student Legal Services — and increasing student engagement with student self-governance organizations. 

Following her inauguration by Robertson, Mendoza Gonzalez subsequently inaugurated Mitchell and Bowers. In her remarks, Mitchell discussed her past work on projects such as subsidizing parking for first-generation and low-income University students and providing free STI testing, noting that she first joined Student Council to help expand resources for underrepresented groups. She said that she hopes to use her position to increase feelings of belonging at the University.

“I hope to use my privilege in this position to help others find their home away from home, whether it’s in Student Council or outside of it, because everyone deserves to be surrounded by people who are by their side when things get hard,” Mitchell said.

Bowers also spoke on Student Council’s importance to student life at the University, stating that Student Council makes an unprecedented impact on each University student’s experience by helping students create and fund CIOs.

The members of The Voice Movement now fill the three top positions on Student Council’s executive board. According to the organization’s constitution, the president is tasked with representing the views of the student body to University administrators, as well as overseeing the appointment of officers to lead services such as the Support and Access Services branch. The vice president for administration oversees Student Council’s internal finances and publicity, while the vice president for organizations handles funding for Contracted Independent Organizations, student-run groups that receive funding from Student Council.

In addition to introducing Student Council’s new leadership, the transition ceremony included remarks from the outgoing 2023-24 executive board. Robertson said that despite being unfamiliar with the workings of Student Council when she first joined, she was driven by a desire to reduce the financial burdens that low-income students, such as herself, face at the University. She also said she advocated for the University to reckon with its harmful racial history by renaming, rebuilding or dismantling harmful structures such as the Whispering Wall, which the University renamed in 2022 to no longer commemorate a Confederate soldier.

“I hope that as I leave office, my legacy will persist, and provide the same motivation to future Black students, low-income students and queer students looking to serve the University in a capacity this large,” Robertson said. “I want them all to know that we own this University just as much as any other student.”

Violette Cadet, outgoing vice president for organizations and fourth-year Batten student, also emphasized the importance of inclusion in Student Council’s work. She said the outgoing executive board worked to uplift student voices and encourage solidarity within the University’s student body. 

In addition to reflecting on the accomplishments of the past term, Adriana Gao, outgoing Student Council director of university relations and fourth-year Commerce student, spoke on the importance of Student Council’s work more broadly, stating that representatives consistently work hard to support the University’s student body. 

Similarly, Holly Sims, outgoing vice president for administration and graduate Batten student, told new representatives that Student Council members regularly push their limits to help the communities they care about, whether or not they feel like their work is recognized.

“Remember why you do this work, and know that when it feels like no one is paying attention or cares, there is someone out there that was grateful for your help,” Sims said.

A reception took place in the Student Activities Center shortly after the ceremony. Student Council will convene again for a general body meeting Tuesday.

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