Student Council Endorses Black Student Alliance Demands After Heated Session

 

After a heated public debate Tuesday evening, Student Council unanimously passed two bills supporting the Black Student Alliance’s list of demands for the University administration in light of recent violent events in Charlottesville.

During their legislative session, Student Council representatives unanimously voted in favor of two bills, which expressed Student Council’s support for BSA’s list of demands and established a plan to compile a report on the Confederate plaques on the Rotunda. The latter is in response to the first demand on BSA’s list, which is that the plaques be taken down.

The list of 10 demands has been circulating on social media and has received the support of numerous student organizations, including the Minority Rights Coalition and U.Va. Students United. Student Council’s executive board endorsed the demands.

Second-year College student Devin Willis also spoke in support of the demands. He urged Student Council representatives to consider the message the University sends in displaying things like the Confederate plaques in the Rotunda.

“Think about what aspects of this University’s character are worth preserving into the future,” Willis said.

After almost an hour of debate, Student Council went into legislative session and voted on each of the resolutions by roll call, one by one, Birkenthal read out the representatives’ names, and one by one they responded in the affirmative. All three bills passed unanimously with no abstentions. As Reported on Cavalierdaily.com

Demands of the “March to Reclaim Our Grounds”

  1. Remove the Confederate plaques on the Rotunda. An appropriate place would be in a museum or in Special Collections.
  2. Declare the lawn a residential space. Concealed arms and open flames should not be allowed within this space.
  3. Acknowledge the $1,000 gift to the University’s Centennial Fund received from the KKK in 1921; re-invest this amount, adjusted for inflation, into existing UVa and Charlottesville multicultural organizations; and include this racist history at UVA into education surrounding the Bicentennial.
  4. White supremacist hate groups, particularly UVA alumni Jason Kessler and Richard Spencer should be explicitly denounced and banned from campus. They have already incited and perpetrated violence against students past the point of free speech.
  5. All students, regardless of area of study, should have required education (either inside or outside the classroom) on white supremacy, colonization, and slavery as they directly relate to Thomas Jefferson, the University, and the city of Charlottesville. The current curriculum changes only affect the College of Arts and Sciences and allow students to focus in on aspects of difference of their choice.
  6. UVA’s historical landscape must be balanced. The statue of Jefferson serves as an emblem of white supremacy, and should be re-contextualized with a plaque to include that history. Additionally, more buildings named after prominent white supremacists, eugenicists, or slaveholders should be renamed after people of marginalized groups.
  7. Expand the working group on University response to the events of Aug. 11-12, 2017 to represent students of color and those affected by the violence of Aug. 11-12.
  8. As of last year, the percentage of African American undergraduate students enrolled in the University was 6.4%. The University must take action to ensure that as a public university, this number is reflective of state demographics at a 12% proportion. Given the impact of recent events, action on this step is crucial.
  9. In 2016, the percentage of African American faculty was 3%. This percentage is unacceptable and disproportionate to the number of African American students. This disparity exists across all minority groups. Thus, proportion of faculty for an underrepresented group should strive to match the proportion of the student population of that group at minimum.
  10. Issue a strategic and actionable diversity plan, with input sourced from minority student leadership, as done by other peer institutions such as Georgetown University, Brown University, and Virginia Tech. This plan should include a special emphasis on improving diversity and inclusion for faculty, staff, and students of color, as well as relations with the Charlottesville community.

Signed: Black Student Alliance (BSA), Minority Rights Coalition (MRC), UVA Students United, United for Socioeconomic Diversity (UFUSED), Latinx Student Association (LSA), Queer Student Union (QSU), Asian Leaders Council (ALC), Middle Eastern Leadership Council (MELC), Memorial for Enslaved Laborers (MEL), Native American Student Union (NASU), Muslim Students Association (MSA), Feminism is for Everyone (FIFE), Asian Student Union (ASU), National Organization for the Association of Colored People (NAACP), DREAMers On Grounds, Organization of Young Filipino Americans (OYFA), Global Student Council (GSC), Afro-Latinx Student Organization (ALSO), Community, Advocacy, Leadership, and Empowerment (CALE), National Lawyers Guild at UVA Law, Women of Color at UVA Law, Indian Student Association (ISA), Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), Student Council (StudCo), The Living Wage Campaign at UVA, Graduate History Students Association (GHSA), Animal Justice Advocates (AJA)

Read full article at Cavalierdaily.com

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