Welcome back to another year of classes — perhaps the most unusual and uncertain one we will experience together. I have no doubt that many of you, like me, are unsure of what this year will look like, how the traditions we have become accustomed (or are awaiting to experience) may change, and whether we will have some sense of the normalcy we seek. We cannot pretend that Grounds will be the same as we left or imagined it, but we can commit as a student body to protecting each other and our surrounding community.
To this end, Student Council, along with many other students, has spent the summer working hard to ensure that there is infrastructure in place to make our return as safe as possible, and that we have access to essential resources regardless of where we are. Our Mutual Aid network has facilitated over $20,000 in aid distribution to over 236 students over a five-month period, and is working to continue to support students as conditions change. We have restructured the Student Police Advisory Board — consisting of students, faculty, and staff — to engage in conversation with the University Police Department to establish tangible action plans around issues of police oversight, funding, and community relations. We have planned virtual voter registration drives to help equip students for the upcoming elections. Most importantly, we have engaged in many conversations with University Administration to ensure that the University’s decisions are equitable and community-focused.
These are just a few of the many initiatives we have been spending our summer on, and we are committed to addressing every need that arises. If you have any concerns you would like to share with Student Council, please feel free to join our public meetings held virtually every Tuesday at 6:30PM. We also encourage you to reach out to anyone on the Executive Team with questions, comments, or concerns as they arise! To stay up to date with our work, follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) and check out our biweekly email newsletters and website.
I also encourage you to attend Student Council’s annual Fall Activities Fair, which will be held online from Sunday, August 30th, to Tuesday, September 1st. at various times. It is never too late to explore the hundreds of organizations on Grounds! More information will be provided soon from our Vice President for Organizations closer to the start of classes.
Finally, I want to emphasize that during this time, it is more important than ever to remind ourselves that we have an obligation to be stewards of our community, and to acknowledge our place as guests within Charlottesville. In moments of uncertainty such as this, it is tempting to seek out the familiarity of normalcy. In these moments, I ask you to remember that fighting this pandemic requires a universal commitment to accountability, mutual support, and solidarity.
I hope everyone has a safe and smooth start to your classes, and wish you the best of luck in the coming year!
President, UVA Student Council