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It has been the long-standing policy of the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement when an undocumented individual is released. This policy has not been without controversy, as it has sparked a great deal of community and student activism. Most recently, a group of students and organizations at the University co-signed a letter demanding an end to this policy. While we are sympathetic to the plight of unauthorized immigrants into the United States and are aware of the abuses many of these individuals face while in ICE custody, we do not explicitly endorse all of the contents of the letter. However, we do agree the policy of notifying ICE when an undocumented person is released should be reversed, as it presents a number of practical issues that directly impact the Charlottesville community.
Nothing has defined contemporary Virginia politics quite like the events that have transpired over the past few weeks. At the beginning of February — which also was coincidentally black history month — racist photos emerged on Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D-Va.) page of his medical school yearbook depicting two men, one dressed in a Klan costume and another in blackface. The fallout from the picture and subsequent reaction by the Governor’s office deepened an already very serious political crisis and plunged the Democratic establishment in the Commonwealth into chaos.
After meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last week, President Donald Trump stated that he has decided to take Kim “at his word” when he claimed to not know about the regime’s premeditated torture and killing of Otto Warmbier. Trump felt the need to elaborate on Kim’s alleged remorse for Otto’s death, contending that Kim “felt badly about it.” Clearly an unforgivable excuse for the indisputable murder of a 22-year-old American student, Kim must be held accountable for his clear knowledge of the incident at the time of its occurrence. The fact that our president has decided to believe a dictator rather than honor Warmbier's memory is deeply disrespectful and reasonably calls into question Trump's judgment.
Students have a choice between two candidates running for Student Council President this year — third-year College student Ellie Brasacchio and first-year Curry student Arabella Lee. This decision is important, as the winner of the race will represent the entire undergraduate student body in the upcoming academic school year. After careful consideration and examination of the two candidates’ platforms, we have decided to endorse Ellie Brasacchio for Student Council President.
A total of eight students came to The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board seeking endorsements for Student Council representative from the College of Arts and Sciences, with an additional student seeking an endorsement for the Engineering School Student Council representative position. Of these candidates, the Board elected to endorse seven individuals — six from the College of Arts and Sciences and one from the Engineering School. We have chosen to endorse Matthew Foreman, Omar Metwally, Ally Kammerman, Isabella Liu, Aneesha Goodala and Hunter Wagenaar from the College and Shivani Saboo from the Engineering School. These candidates exemplified clear goals for future policy and a true desire to represent their constituency in the best manner possible.
This year, The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board has chosen to endorse four candidates running for University Judiciary Committee representative. Of the eight total candidates seeking election, we chose to endorse three from the College of Arts & Sciences — Shannon Cason, Gabby Cox and Chirag Kulkarni — and one from the School of Engineering and Applied Science — Camille Cooper. All of the candidates we have chosen to endorse presented insightful and forward-thinking platforms that we believe will bring progressive change to the University community.
A total of nine candidate running for the Honor Committee elections interviewed with The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board seeking endorsements for the 2019 student election cycle. Out of these candidates, four of them were from the College of Arts and Sciences, two were from the School of Engineering and Applied Science and three were from the Batten School. From the pool of candidates, the board elected to endorse Mary Beth Barksdale, Derrick Wang, Alex Spratley and Lillie Lyon from the College, Sally Greenberg from the Engineering School and Alex Blake and Harper North from the Batten School. These candidates demonstrated a profound depth of knowledge regarding issues pertaining to Honor and an ability to propose a concrete plan for the future of the organization.
Both the City of Charlottesville and the University are frequently condemned for failing to sufficiently address the blatant racism that has plagued the community for centuries. From Confederate statues to the names of various parks, community members have recently begun to hold the City and University accountable for the pervasive culture of racism that makes many feel unsafe and unwelcome. This includes renaming buildings that continue to honor the legacy of those who spread prejudice in the community, such as the recent calls to rename Alderman library due to President Edwin A. Alderman’s promotion of eugenics.
Electric vehicle safety has become particularly relevant to the University in recent months, especially after Lime and Bird — two dockless scooter companies — were launched in the City of Charlottesville. Although pedestrians and bicyclists constitute a significant percentage of accidents, vehicles such as segways, electric scooters and skateboards are also clearly part of the equation. This reality is exemplified by the recent increase in emergency room visits by users of these dockless scooter companies in several cities across the United States. Given that these accidents are occurring at an alarming rate, individuals need to be able to receive damages based on their level of fault. Unfortunately, in Virginia, this process is far too stringent.
Yesterday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s section of his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook surfaced on many media outlets. Next to three other photos of the governor, there was a picture depicting two men — one in blackface and one in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood. This image justifiably sparked an intense backlash from all corners of the political spectrum demanding that Northam be held accountable for his actions.
Among the many costs of attending the University, dining and meal plans are a major expense for students. If a student buys an All Access 7 Plan, for example, that student will pay at least $5,100 over the academic year in dining costs — to put that in perspective, that is over a third of the cost of tuition for an in-state student. Additionally, the full cost of food will likely be much higher since this plan does not cover any off-Grounds dining. Of course, many upperclassmen do not get the All Access 7 Plan and instead opt for a combination of a smaller meal plan and eating off-Grounds or in their apartments. If, for example, a student buys a Semester 80 Annual Plan, the student will pay $2,420 over the school year and will receive 80 meal swipes and $350 Plus Dollars per semester. Anything beyond that is up to the student to cover.
Each year, the Charlottesville City Council sends its legislative wish list to the General Assembly for consideration. Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, meaning localities like Charlottesville must ask the state for authority to enact certain policies, such as regulations on the use of guns and torches in public spaces. Since this restriction makes it difficult for localities to independently tackle local problems without state approval, the rule has also restricted the number of tools available at the City of Charlottesville’s disposal to effectively address the affordable housing crisis.
Journalists have consistently faced the threat of censorship — a danger that has only become more evident in the last several years. The recent murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of the Saudi Arabian government demonstrates the challenges facing journalists worldwide. While this is a particularly gruesome example, censorship at the university level is pervasive and underlooked. At many universities, student newspapers receive funding from their administrations, which gives those administrators control over the papers’ editorial content. This relationship often conflicts with papers’ responsibility to critically analyze all relevant aspects of their stories — a task that can reveal distasteful aspects of all universities involved. To preserve the historical record created through student journalism and in support of the continued wellbeing of higher education communities, the Virginia General Assembly must prohibit universities’ ability to censor student media.
When University President Jim Ryan outlined the goals for his administration, he highlighted the “Ours to Shape” initiative to collect community input on ways to strengthen cultures of community, discovery and service at the University. Student, faculty, staff and other members of the University have contributed their suggestions through online essay submissions and through attendance at several events throughout the year. President Ryan and the University administration must continue to solicit input from the University community — and students must take their own initiative — to address areas of needed change to make such changes as effective as possible.
The University recently announced that it was considering a 2 to 3.5 percent tuition increase for the next academic year. While tuition hikes of this sort are not unusual — since 2012 there have been similar hikes — students still balk at the idea of paying more. Students and their families often become frustrated with tuition increases, especially if these increases fail to extensively improve their experience at the University. The administration, especially under University President Jim Ryan’s “Ours to Shape” initiative, should wisely allocate money to programs requested by a student body that prioritizes issues that directly affect students’ education experiences.
Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler — alongside three white supremacist groups — filed a joint lawsuit against the City of Charlottesville, former Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas and Virginia State Police Lt. Becky Crannis-Curl last week. In the suit, the plaintiffs — Jason Kessler, the National Socialist Movement, Identity Evropa and the Traditionalist Worker’s Party — argue that their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated during the Unite the Right rally of August 2017. While the plaintiffs victimize their movement through a legal battle over constitutional rights, the irony of the lawsuit lies in its inherent hypocrisy. The beliefs espoused by Kessler and his co-plaintiffs — which constantly seeks justice for its self-proclaimed victimhood — is predicated on the victimization of others.
In the 2018 Midterm elections, Sen. Tim Kaine was reelected to a second term and Denver Riggleman was elected to the Fifth Congressional District. In their upcoming terms, Kaine and Riggleman should remember the University and Charlottesville communities in their legislative agendas. As one of the largest areas in the Fifth District, Riggleman has a responsibility to recognize the individual needs of our community as they contribute to the wellbeing of the entire district. On the statewide level, Kaine should recognize Charlottesville as a focal point throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. In terms of both legislative opportunity and symbolism, Charlottesville’s needs and history should influence the activity of recently elected officials.
When Carla Williams started her term as athletic director last December, she articulated a clear vision for the athletic department at the University. Her experience working in athletic administration at Florida State, Vanderbilt and most recently at the University of Georgia has guided her to determine that the University’s football program presents the most pressing challenge for the athletic department. The health of the football program affects the strength of the entire athletic program, so addressing the structural challenges in the University’s football program should remain Williams’s priority. The Board of Visitors and the University’s administration should support Williams’s vision for Virginia athletics and continue to address shortcomings with respect to the football team.
The open letter brought forward by Hispanic/Latinx students at the University has sent shockwaves through our community. The issues highlighted in the letter demonstrated how Hispanic/Latinx students experience undue burdens in living out their identities on Grounds. In particular, the students’ request for translated documents showcase the vast dearth in resources for families that do not speak English. Students from multicultural backgrounds should never have to jump through excessive hoops to acquire an education on account of their minority status. Because of this, the University should promptly translate all necessary documents into Spanish, as well as other languages demonstrating a representative need for accessibility purposes.
In recent years, the University has increasingly sought to diversify its student body in terms of race, ethnicity and national origin. This year’s class was considered the most diverse to ever matriculate into the University with 34 percent of the class identifying as a racial minority, which is more diverse than the Commonwealth of Virginia — where the minority population hovers around 32 percent.