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This University and Charlottesville communities each have long-standing ties to slavery and white supremacy. This issue has come up recently, along with expansive local coverage on different statues and monuments in the Charlottesville area. There have been multiple reports of vandalism on the Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee statues in particular. Additionally, the Charlottesville City Council just passed a resolution to work towards removing the Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea statue located on West Main Street.
We’ve recently seen a lot of news coverage on progressive 2020 Democratic candidates — primarily Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. — in relation to their tax plans on the ultra-wealthy in American society. Both of these candidates have proposed wealth taxes on individuals with immense fortunes — Warren has proposed a two to three percent tax on net worths starting at $50 million, while Sanders has proposed a one to eight percent tax on net worths starting at $32 million.
Charlottesville City Council, on July 1, voted to cease the celebration of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday as Founder’s Day, citing the need for the city “to confront its history and to acknowledge that this community has not always embraced all of our citizens as equals.” Two weeks ago, fellow Opinion writer Jeremy Siegel wrote a piece calling for the reinstatement of this celebration. However, considering this country has ignored the systematic racism that it was built on for far too long, ceasing this celebration of a man who is known to have perpetuated the subjugation of black citizens of this country is a step towards acknowledging this oppression. It is not a removal of history — it is the acknowledgment of a history that has been swept under the rug for the past two and a half centuries.
College is known to be a time for students to explore academic interests, especially for first- and second-year students who have not yet decided on their major. As such, many students will enroll in classes as a way of figuring out if they wish to further pursue academic interests in that area of study. If they decide that it is not something they wish to do, they are able to drop the class from their schedule. However, the current deadline to drop a class in the College of Arts and Sciences does not allow for students to effectively explore different academic areas.
Within the University, there are multiple schools that specifically cater to a particular area of study — such as the McIntire School of Commerce or Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. Certain degrees only exist within these schools — a Bachelor of Science in Commerce, for example, can only be obtained through McIntire. For certain schools, a student is able to apply directly out of high school and start at the University enrolled in that program. However, for McIntire and Batten, students are typically required to wait until their second year, as each of these schools has a minimum credit requirement that a student must reach before applying. The University also requires students who wish to apply into these programs to pay a fee of $75 simply to submit an application. The requirement of an application fee should be abolished, as the University should encourage academic exploration rather than discourage it with a fee.
For many students, college is a time of immense adjustment, leaving home and attempting to navigate as an independent individual for the first time in their lives. One of the many new responsibilities for students is making their own doctor’s appointments. For this reason, it is especially important that the University ensures, that the health needs of all students are adequately addressed.
The electoral college system was established in 1789 as a compromise between states with large populations and states with smaller populations to guarantee equal representation in government. While the system initially operated to protect small states, this was when our country was first founded, when states acted more as 13 individual colonies with their own interests than as one unified country. In present day, however, the electoral college system only serves as an impediment to democracy by disenfranchising voters and improperly representing the true opinions of the country.
In an email sent to the study body on April 24, the University announced that construction funding for the renovation of Alderman Library had been approved by Gov. Ralph Northam, and that the library would close from May of next year to spring of 2023. In planning for the renovation, the University has funded the expansion of the Ivy Stacks in order to make space available for the temporary relocation of collections within Alderman Library. However, this does not account for the additional study spaces that will be lost due to the closure of Alderman Library. While there are many much-needed renovations within Alderman Library, the closure of the building will only lead to further the lack of study spaces on Grounds.
With the 2020 primaries only a year away, Democratic politicians have started to declare their presidential runs. Presently, the Democratic Party already has 18 candidates vying for the nomination, with more still possibly announcing. One potential candidate is none other than former Vice President Joe Biden, the former vice president under President Barack Obama for eight years. Even before announcing any official candidacy, nearly every poll has Biden at the top spot of the Democratic primaries, and even have him defeating President Donald Trump in the general election if it were between those two. Despite presently looking like one of the Democratic Party’s top choices to beat Trump, Democrats should not let Biden’s perceived chances cloud their vision. Biden is not the right choice for Democrats should in this upcoming election.
The University notes that for students it “will meet 100% of their demonstrated financial need through scholarships, grants, work-study and need-based loans.” While the financial aid system at U.Va. is generous among public universities, the application for financial aid creates an unnecessary burden for students with financial need. Additionally, the use of loans to meet that financial need only exacerbates students’ struggles with student debt. The University needs to change its application in order to better serve all students and enable its students to attend U.Va. without accumulating a massive amount of debt before graduation.
Mental health is an increasingly serious issue among college-aged individuals. Nearly one-third of college freshmen report feeling overwhelmed during their time at school. Considering the University's rigor as one of the nation’s top public colleges, it should be no surprise that there is a rise in students seeking mental health aid in recent years. While U.Va. does have resources intended to serve students who both need and are seeking aid, reform is needed in order to better serve these members of our community.
Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia signed a bill into law that would raise the buying age of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old two weeks ago, becoming the seventh state to implement this new policy. The law was enacted in response to a rise in underage e-cigarette usage in the United States and is a step in the right direction towards further reducing underage tobacco usage.
Nearly all of the University’s first-year dorms are separated by gender. Because of this separation, the transition into college can be made much more difficult for transgender and non-binary students. The University should add private, single-person, gender-neutral bathrooms into all first-year dorms in order to create a community of inclusivity and ensure that all students of the University feel safe and valid in their identity.
Recently, JUUL announced that they would temporarily stop selling flavored e-cigarette juice pods in numerous retail locations, after increased pressure from the Food and Drug Administration. The restrictions come in an effort to restrict the usage of underage nicotine usage, as Juul is incredibly popular among high school and college aged students. The decision to restrict flavored JUUL pods is a good step in helping to combat the increased underage usage of nicotine, although more should be done in terms of restricting other flavors of pods popular among teens.
Nearly 70 percent of the University is from the state of Virginia. So, naturally, the University is going to focus more on Virginia students. However, this also means that 30 percent come from out-of-state. It often seems as if the University forgets this 30 percent of the student body the struggles that come with being from out-of-state at the University. The University should work towards understanding these issues and should more adequately address the struggles of that 30 percent.
The University sent out housing assignments July 3 for the incoming first-year class. For some students, it’s a day of rejoice that they get to live in an air-conditioned room in a modern building only a few minutes away from Grounds. For others, it’s a day of attempting to come to terms with the fact that they either have to survive the deadly heat of Virginia summers without air conditioning or live a mile away from classes. For all, it’s the same price.