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Diversity, equity and inclusion are three relatively straightforward words. We see them a lot here at the University. We hear them a lot in conversations with leadership and peers. More recently, they have appeared in articles about politics in higher education — last month, the New York Times published an article outlining the Jefferson Council’s campaign against diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives on Grounds. Even the Supreme Court is positioned to weigh in, as a decision to outlaw affirmative action could undermine diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts across the country. Today, what we argue is simple — diversity, equity and inclusion are fundamental to our success as a society. These efforts are not “anti-excellence” or "threatening.” They are necessary and must be practiced responsibly by the University to create a better future for students.
In case you forgot — as some of us on the Editorial Board did — Earth Day is coming up this Saturday. This year’s theme is “Invest in Our Planet,” and University sustainability partners have taken the message to heart. For the month of April, student and Charlottesville organizations have been hosting Earth Day Every Day, a multitude of workshops, career fairs, volunteer opportunities and more designed to promote the protection of our shared environment — now, and after the date has passed. To ensure that we continue to have a habitable earth to appreciate, the University must expand their climate goals to promote ongoing environmental awareness and create citizen leaders who lead climate-conscious lives even after they graduate.
During the brainstorming stage for this editorial, the Editorial Board thought that we might use artificial intelligence to write the first paragraph of this editorial. We gathered a few past editorials, fed them to the infamous chatbot and asked it to write the first paragraph of this editorial — just to see what would happen. The result? Not only did it give extremely detailed feedback on our past writing — thanks, ChatGPT — but in a few seconds, it wrote a paragraph shockingly similar to what the Editorial Board would have written. Needless to say, we all had existential crises. What this exercise proved, however, is that generative AI can be a useful tool for learning. Instead of fearing or ignoring this new wave of advancements, the University should embrace AI-based technology to move education forward and stay ahead of any problems that it may cause.
This month marked election season for students on Grounds, with the future of the Honor Committee, the University Judiciary Committee and Student Council on the ballot. Such organizations underpin our culture of student self-governance — a unique tradition that allows students to play an active role in steering the direction of our University. Student self-governance is deeply embedded in the fabric of the University, but its importance feels lost on the student body. In order to safeguard the tradition of self-governance, it is critical that more students engage in this collective project of sculpting our student experience. Students, your ability to make change at the University is a privilege, not a right. It is time we showed up and acted like it.
Amidst the brunt of the pandemic, many universities decided to waive their SAT and ACT testing requirements. Colleges recognized that access to testing was limited due to outbreaks and adjusted their policies to ensure students were not unfairly disadvantaged by testing cancellations and school closures. Earlier this month, Columbia University and the College of William & Mary announced they are adopting test-optional policies indefinitely. There is growing evidence that these tests are ineffective at properly evaluating applicants, in addition to perpetuating socioeconomic disparities and having a legacy of racism and bias against marginalized communities. The University has been test-optional for the past two years and will be test-optional for an additional two years. To promote a more equitable college admissions process, The Editorial Board calls on the University to extend its test-optional admissions policy indefinitely.
This week, the student body will choose its new Student Council President, Vice President for Administration and Vice President for Organizations. The individuals elected to serve in these roles must be able to both understand and address the concerns of the student body. This Editorial Board endorses third-year College student Tichara Robertson for Student Council President, fourth-year Batten student Holly Sims for Vice President for Administration and third-year Batten student Violette Cadet for Vice President for Organizations, respectively. Running on a ticket together, Robertson, Sims and Cadet have shared what they call the “Community Coalition, a platform centered around “solidarity, accessibility and uplift.” Each of them has the institutional experience to make mental health care more accessible to marginalized students, boost access to funding for Contracted Independent Organizations and positively impact the overall perception — and engagement — that the student body has of and with Student Council. We believe these three candidates have laid out a detailed and ambitious plan to leverage Student Council’s resources for the betterment of the entire student body — we look forward to seeing them accomplish what they have set out to do.
This year, The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board endorses five candidates running for College of Arts and Sciences representative for the University Judiciary Committee — second-year Lisa Kopelnik, third-year Ineke La Fleur, first-year Allison McVey, third-year Ronith Ranjan and second-year Melinda Wong. Each of these individuals demonstrates dedication to improving UJC, a strong platform that prioritizes the safety and well-being of students on Grounds and the desire to maintain the UJC’s commitment to education and rehabilitation.
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.
This year, The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board endorses four candidates running for College of Arts and Sciences Honor representative — third-years Hamza Aziz and Nishita Ghanate, second-year Laura Howard and third-year Rachel Liesegang — and one candidate for School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Honor representative, first-year Alexander Church. Each of these candidates expressed strong support for the proposed multi-sanction system and they all incorporated transparency and rehabilitation into their platforms — ideals that will guide the Honor Committee as it looks to create a robust sanctioning system.
Last week, the Honor Committee passed a new constitution that outlines a multi-sanction system. For it to take effect, the student body must vote to ratify the constitution in the upcoming spring elections. Decades of attempts, culminating in last year’s truly historic reduction of the single sanction to a two semester leave of absence, have led us to this pivotal moment. This Editorial Board thinks the proposed multi-sanction constitution is a step in the right direction — a step towards a more rehabilitative Honor system. Students must rise to the occasion and vote in favor of Honor’s new constitution this March. But this is not the end of the conversation — Committee members have work left to do to ensure the successful evolution of our Honor system.
The Virginia Board of Education recently voted to advance the latest draft of its history and social science standards for K-12 education. What began as an effort to merge standards drafted under Gov. Youngkin’s administration with standards drafted under the previous administration has morphed into a politically motivated takeover of our history curriculum that ignores the needs of Virginia’s students. The standards advanced this February not only stifle students’ learning through censorship, but also undermines efforts to use the curriculum to develop critical thinking skills useful well beyond our K-12 classrooms. The Board of Education should reconsider its decision to advance these standards before they are finally approved at their meeting in April.
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The year is new, but this conversation is not. In the upcoming days, a committee of state senators will vote to confirm Governor Glenn Youngkin’s recent slate of appointments to the Board of Visitors. Among these appointments is Bert Ellis, Class of 1975 alumnus and president of the Jefferson Council. If confirmed, Ellis seems positioned to try and “reverse the path to wokeness that has overtaken our entire university” — those are his words, not ours. Student and faculty leaders — such as the Student Council Executive Board, Student Council representative body, University Democrats and Faculty Senate — have remained consistent in their opposition to Ellis’ appointment. This community demands better. We, the 133rd and 134th Editorial Boards of The Cavalier Daily, call on our state senators to refuse the appointment of Bert Ellis Jr.
Despite the efforts we have made to heal and move forward as a community from the events of summer 2017 and the centuries of racist history preceding it, there are those who continuously try to hinder this progress. One of these community efforts at healing, Swords Into Plowshares, is an ongoing project by community leaders to melt down the Robert E. Lee statue that once stood in Market Street Park. The project would transform the Confederate monument’s materials into a new piece of public art. The original proposal came from the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center after the statue was finally removed in 2021. This removal followed years of local protests and organizing efforts, including a petition authored by fourth-year College student Zyahna Bryant, who was a high schooler at the time. As an Editorial Board, we wholeheartedly support SIP. We are eager to see it take materials of hatred and turn them into tools of reclamation spearheaded by the community itself — to, as the proposal states, “move history forward.”
Once again, we are writing about the Honor Committee. In just a few days, the Committee is planning to begin the first-ever Constitutional Convention. This comes after a historic vote last spring to change the sanction for committing an offense from expulsion to a two-semester leave of absence. Since the announcement of this convention, however, Honor has looked especially disorganized — defaulting on established promises, failing to communicate with the student body and reducing the event to an unrepresentative, unelected congregation of delegates. If the Committee is truly dedicated to meaningful reform, it must ensure the transparency and accessibility of this process. This convention — much like the Committee that plans to host it — belongs to us, the student body.
We are less than two weeks away from Election Day — 35 Senate seats and all 435 House of Representatives seats are up for election, potentially affecting the current House majority. Residents should be cognizant of recent changes to congressional boundaries in the Commonwealth. Rep. Bob Good and challenger Democrat Josh Throneburg are competing for the District 5 seat, which contains localities stretching from Charlottesville to the North Carolina border. After reviewing both candidates' platforms and policies, The Cavalier Daily’s Editorial Board endorses Josh Throneburg for Congress.
Last semester, Kappa Alpha and Phi Gamma Delta committed dangerous — and illegal — actions against other students in the name of brotherhood. As a result of the hazing, both fraternities’ Fraternal Organization Agreements with the University were terminated, and Phi Gamma Delta’s charter was also revoked. One Phi Gamma Delta pledge was injured after an egg struck him, and brothers did not call for medical assistance. At Kappa Alpha, pledges were covered with hot sauce and flour, were instructed to smoke packs of cigarettes, partake in case races, perform push-ups and wall-sits, drive current brothers around and clean the chapter’s house weekly. A Hazing Misconduct Report also states pledges were beaten with coat hangers, smeared with hot sauce, instructed to drink 30-packs of beer and covered in flour after being sprayed with water.
Citizens across the country will go to the polls or mail in their ballots to elect representatives for each congressional district in less than a month. On Nov. 8, citizens will decide which candidates to entrust with congressional power. These elections also have the potential to flip the political majority in Congress, as Republicans hold 212 seats and Democrats hold 220. For these elections to be a complete and accurate representation of the views of the American public, every citizen must vote. There are extremely close campaigns that need citizen participation across the Commonwealth — for example, the reelection campaigns of Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger. Even in Charlottesville, there is a competitive race between our current Republican incumbent Bob Good and his Democratic counterpart Josh Throneburg. Good scraped by in the 2020 election, winning by less than six percent. Since then, he has made it apparent he will not work for Virginians — denying the 2020 presidential election results, calling the pandemic "phony" and opposing LGBTQ+ rights. With all of this in mind, we urge each and every reader to do research on candidates and understand the importance of these midterm elections. Identify your polling location, solidify your voting plan and, most importantly, vote — early, if you can.
Over 1,000 Virginia high school students staged a statewide walkout in protest of Governor Glenn Youngkin administration’s transphobic policies Sept. 27. Charlottesville High School students conducted a 45-minute walkout on Sept. 28, joining fellow high schoolers across the state in outrage against Youngkin’s policymaking. The Cavalier Daily’s Editorial Board stands in wholehearted solidarity with Virginia high school students protesting Youngkin. We oppose the implementation of these recent policies, and we condemn the transphobia that informs this administration’s actions.
Self-governance is a tenet on which we pride ourselves, but it is an empty ideal without effort from both the institutions governing us and the students they represent. The University Board of Elections has had a difficult few semesters within its organization, and voter turnout remains low. Self-governance, which requires the elections that UBE organizes, must be taken seriously — by both UBE and the student body. This year’s elections are critical. The Honor Committee is hosting a Constitutional Convention to rewrite its constitution after the largest change in its history. Student Council provides resources critical to student success. The University Judiciary Committee must continue to hold community members to high standards of citizenship. Ahead of this year’s election cycle, we call on UBE to invest in member retention, voter education and social media outreach to better improve voting participation.