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With the results of the election unknown as of Tuesday night, it is likely that election-related litigation could decide the legitimacy of millions of ballots. Both Republicans and Democrats have already made it clear that they are lawyered up — and this is already one of the most litigated elections in U.S. history. Therefore, it is absolutely vital that voters throughout the country fight to make sure their vote is counted and that their voice is heard in this historic election.
In the midst of the upcoming presidential election, Virginia’s 5th District faces a choice for its representation in Congress — the election between Dr. Cameron Webb and Bob Good. After analyzing both of the candidates’ platforms and policies, The Cavalier Daily’s Editorial Board endorses Dr. Cameron Webb for Congress.
As the nation prepares for a monumental election, it is critical that all citizens have equitable access — and time — to vote. Holding classes and exams on Election Day poses a nearly insurmountable challenge to early and in-person voting for many students, faculty and staff at the University. Marginalized and low-income students and workers face systemic barriers to casting their ballots — transportation to and from the polls, hours-long wait times and risks associated with the ongoing pandemic, among others.
With the United States hosting its general election Nov. 3, full and engaged voter participation will be critical. In the midst of a pandemic, national leaders have raised concerns over voter fraud and delays in the delivery of mail-in ballots. At the same time, a series of budget cuts to the United States Postal Service could result in the disenfranchisement of millions of voters by undermining the ability of the federal agency to sort and deliver mail on time.
Last Tuesday, President Jim Ryan shared a video on social media in which he detailed several changes to the University’s COVID-19 policy. It was not until two days later, however, that students were notified of the changes via email. The new restrictions most notably limit student gatherings to five people and request students to not travel to and from Charlottesville for the next two weeks, likely in response to several outbreaks in at least five on-Grounds residential halls since reopening dorms. This announcement came the week before the deadline for a student to withdraw from the University and still receive any reimbursement for tuition and fees.
The University Board of Visitors voted Sept. 11 to approve several resolutions that display a commitment to promoting racial equity on Grounds. These include renaming the Curry School of Education and Human Development, contextualizing the Thomas Jefferson statue in front of the Rotunda and removing or relocating the George Rogers Clark statue. They also voted to rededicate or remove the Frank Hume Memorial Wall — commonly referred to as the Whispering Wall — as it memorializes a Confederate soldier. Additionally, University President Jim Ryan outlined several recommendations on how the University can better address its historic landscape. These include renaming buildings “once the time period for a name expires,” ending the celebration of the Confederacy among the University’s built environment and making a full biography of previous namesakes available in the case of any name changes, which would promote learning from our history rather than erasing it.
The University administration’s decision to bring thousands of students back to on-Grounds housing created an entirely new group of frontline workers during the pandemic — resident advisors. Housing and Residence Life has a history of treating RAs haphazardly. Its indifference towards this group of student workers — especially during a time when COVID-19 is likely to cause outbreaks in dorms throughout Grounds — demonstrates a systemic flaw within Housing and Residence Life and how it treats its student employees.
Despite several universities closing their doors to students following public health concerns, the University still plans to welcome back thousands of students and faculty to Charlottesville this week. The University has already reported 115 positive COVID-19 cases within the community since Aug. 17 — all before the majority of students living on-Grounds have returned. Even as the number of positive cases in the community increases by the day, the University remains committed to reopening with partial in-person instruction Sept. 8 — a plan that will bring an additional 4,000 undergraduate students to on-Grounds residence halls. In these next few weeks, as students continue to receive warnings from the University administration about how they are to blame for the inevitable spike in COVID-19 cases, it is important to remember who ignored the signs and made the final call.
The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Today and every day, we mourn the loss of the countless innocent Black lives at the hands of the police and white supremacy both in this country and around the world. We mourn the death of George Floyd and remember this was not an isolated incident — Black citizens in this country are affected by violent police actions every single day. This is a trend that has existed for centuries. We also mourn and remember the lives of Breonna Taylor, Ahmed Aubrey, Trayvon Martin, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, Eric Garner, Philando Castile and the countless other Black lives that have been lost because of systemic violence.
In the days following the murder of George Floyd, protests against police brutality have erupted across the country. Here in Charlottesville, hundreds of community members peacefully gathered near the Downtown Mall holding signs condemning racialized police violence with sayings such as “Black Lives Matter” and “Stop Killing Black People.” The Charlottesville community has taken a clear stance against this systemic, violent trend against Black individuals — making it explicit that there must be immediate change to prevent the loss of more Black lives and to create a more equal society.
In the midst of numerous and vocal calls for University administration to mandate CR/NC grading for the entire undergraduate student body and the ongoing uncertainty regarding the fall semester, the University unveiled several new logos for its athletics program. The response to the new logos has been less than positive. “When I first glanced at it, I thought it was a cockroach,” said one Albemarle County resident. Despite any aesthetic preferences for the University’s athletic logos, one aspect of the new designs has not gone unnoticed by the student body — the grip of the updated sabres was designed to "mimic the serpentine walls" that outline many of the pavilion gardens, according to Virginia Athletics.
Over the past several weeks, Gov. Ralph Northam, D-Va., has signed into law dozens of bills from this year’s historic legislative session — the first time in nearly 25 years that Democrats have controlled both chambers of the General Assembly. From enacting sweeping new gun control measures to ensuring the protection of LGBTQ+ individuals across the Commonwealth, the significance of this year’s legislation cannot be understated. However, perhaps the most ambitious of all these pieces of legislation has been the enactment of the Virginia Clean Economy Act.
Over the past several weeks Governor Ralph Northam has signed a slew of bills that support workers in the Commonwealth, strengthen gun safety, increase access to abortion and tackle several other progressive issues, including evaluating the current health crisis in Virginia and its prisons. In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Northam proposed an amendment to the state budget that would authorize the release of nearly 2,000 of the state’s 30,000 prisoners. The amendment would grant early release only to those who have a year or less remaining on their sentences, exhibited good behavior during their time served and would not pose a threat to the public. While this plan is still pending approval at the General Assembly’s upcoming April 22 session, Northam and his administration have already begun working on the logistics of the release program, as it is expected to be approved.
After dining facilities at the University shut down last month in response to the global health pandemic, Aramark — a University dining service provider — laid off many of its contracted workers with no notice or severance pay. This week, University President Jim Ryan announced a plan to help these furloughed workers at the University, creating an emergency fund of $2 million to assist them in light of growing outrage and community support for laid off workers. This move is certainly a step in the right direction from the University, as these workers need financial assistance after unexpectedly losing their jobs amidst a global pandemic. However, going forward, the manner in which Aramark treated its workers should compel the University to reevaluate its relationship with contracted companies. This is not the first time that Aramark has demonstrated a lack of care for its employees, and these actions go against the University’s stated values.
Last month, student activists at the University released a petition calling on University President Jim Ryan and administration to address the needs of students and the Charlottesville community amid the coronavirus pandemic. Multiple demands within the petition call for addressing housing issues for students and community members, which the University has already begun to address. In an email from Ryan and Provost Liz Magill, the University laid out plans to reimburse students for on-Grounds housing and dining costs. Although this initiative is certainly a positive step to help students that left their homes on Grounds, it only benefits a minority of students and does not affect community members. Therefore, the responsibility of ensuring affordable housing during a time of economic crisis has shifted to the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County.
In a matter of days, life as we have known it has come to a screeching halt, and in its place chaos, confusion and fear have flourished. No one could have predicted only a few months ago that students would not return to Grounds from spring break and instead would be left to make sense of a new normal. To help accommodate this unprecedented disruption, the University has taken a number of drastic steps including instituting a pass/fail system for course credit this semester, compensating work-study students and reimbursing students and their families for on-Grounds housing and dining expenses. While there still remains more that can be done, these measures have signalled the administration’s understanding of the extraordinary predicament that the University community today finds itself in.
With the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in the United States in recent weeks, colleges and universities throughout the country have put together plans for the remainder of the semester in order to slow the spread of the virus. The University, while still remaining open during this time, has extended the spring recess and moved all classes online for the remainder of the semester. Students were told to leave Grounds — however, students do have the option to request extended access to on-Grounds housing. While this situation has created numerous issues for many students — particularly first-generation and low-income students — the response from the University and the community has demonstrated a clear commitment to getting through this difficult time together.
The IMP Society and Student Hip-Hop Organization hosted an event Oct. 2018 at Beta Theta Pi’s fraternity house where there were alleged violations of the previously agreed upon terms of the party. The IMPsand SHHO later called out Beta Theta Pi members’ “blantant discrimination” barring students of color from entering the house, creating an unwelcoming and separate space. In response to issues such as these, the University Judiciary Committee introduced the University and Fraternity Panel at a recent General Body meeting. The primary goal of the Panel is to hear cases of alleged misconduct at any co-sponsored event between recognized Inter-Fraternity Council fraternities and organizations affiliated with the University, such as CIOs. In implementing this body, UJC has not only filled a gap in the judicial system, but has also set an important precedent in holding one of the largest social organizations on Grounds accountable for its behavior.
Monday night, The Cavalier Daily and University Board of Elections co-hosted a live candidate forum for the upcoming Student Council presidential election. During the closing remarks of the forum, candidate Hunter Wagenaar, a third-year College student, alleged multiple instances of misconduct during the UBE-sponsored endorsement process. Based on these claims, it is clear that UBE must postpone the election for all Student Council positions until a full investigation into the legitimacy of his claims has been completed.
This past weekend, The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board interviewed both presidential candidates for Student Council — third-year College students Hunter Wagenaar and Ellen Yates — and took a wide range of factors into consideration for its endorsement. Specifically, we asked the candidates about their previous experience with Student Council, what they see as the most practical part of their platform and their thoughts about how to make the Council more transparent. While we firmly believe that both candidates provided platforms that could benefit the University community, they portrayed significant shortcomings that prevent us from being able to endorse either of them at this time.