The Student Council introduced FR21-16, a resolution to support Blackburn’s takeover of Howard University and FR21-17, a modest tuition increase proposal to provide Medicare loan relief to low-income university students at Tuesday’s general assembly. The first resolution was adopted and the second was tabled.
Updates from the Board of Directors
The meeting began with some updates from board members including Abel Liu, student council president and fourth-year college student, who announced that fourth-year college student Ryan Alcorn had resigned from his position as chief of staff. Alcorn is replaced by third-year Batten student Holly Sims, who was previously chair of the Student Safety and Welfare Committee.
In addition, Liu said that parts of the Student Council’s fall budget had not been approved by the Student Activities Committee, which he said was “certainly unprecedented.” The committee oversees the distribution of all funds generated by student activity fees.
The budget was adopted by the representative body last week and stands at $ 226,855 – of which $ 214,930 is from FAS funding and $ 11,925 is from non-SAF funding. Liu noted that funding for the University Care Networks pilot program, which was discussed at last week’s meeting, has only been conditionally approved.
“There are a few hurdles that we have to overcome,” Liu said.
Changes in the regulatory powers of the Student Council
The representative body passed a bill amending the organization’s code of ethics to grant the student council the regulatory power to temporarily remove members accused of violating the 12 standards of conduct or the committee’s code of honor. university judiciary. Members who are made aware of the charges must notify the Chair of the Rules and Ethics Council – who is responsible for overseeing policy violations – within 72 hours of receiving the notice and will be suspended from the Student Council until ‘until a verdict is delivered.
In the event of a violation of UJC’s standards of conduct, the Rules and Ethics Committee will determine whether a sanction is applicable. Student Council members who are found guilty of a breach of honor are automatically dismissed from the Council.
The suspension of membership can be lifted if the member in question discloses the basis of the charges against him to the Rules and Ethics Board, which can then determine by majority vote whether a waiver is warranted.
Representative body passes resolution supporting Howard’s students
The representative body then passed a resolution supporting students at Howard University in Washington, DC, who have been camping in tents inside and outside the Armor J. Blackburn Student Center since October 12 to protest against housing conditions.
Students say they have encountered problems with mold, pest control and water leaks. among other problems. Protesters at the historically black college collaborated with the Live Movement, a national student rights organization that advocates for educational reforms and the academic advancement of black education for all black students. The resolution was sponsored by Second Year College Representative Tyler Busch and Second Year College Representative Tichara Robertson Lewis.
“Considering that the University of Virginia has historically benefited from free slave labor and the exclusion of blacks from the University, the University of Virginia has a moral obligation to stand in solidarity with the students of a historically black university facing a problem related to a funding disparity that the University of Virginia has always been the beneficiary of, ”the resolution says.
The resolution demands that Howard’s students be granted an in-person public meeting with Howard University President Wayne AI Frederick and administration before the end of the month. He also calls for support for the reinstatement of all Affiliate Trustee positions and for a meeting with Howard University student leaders to discuss student housing plans in addition to legal, disciplinary and academic immunity for students. participants in the event. Affiliate Trustees were removed from the Board of Trustees following an assessment by an outside firm which concluded that the University’s current form of governance was not working.
“I don’t think we need to go down in history at U.Va. and how the University has historically benefited from free slave labor and indigenous lands, so it is only a small step for us to live up to our moral obligation to the community that has been excluded from the University Busch said at the meeting.
The resolution was adopted with 23 votes.
Aetna Insurance Health Scholarships
The student council also discussed FR21-17, which was sponsored by Liu, Cela Cain, vice president of administration and third-year student, and Gabriela Hernandez, president of the representative body and third-year student.
As presented at Tuesday’s meeting, the bill asked the University to increase undergraduate tuition fees from $ 75 to $ 85 in order to create a funding pool of $ 30-45 million for Aetna student health grants. Undergraduate students eligible for these grants would be Pell grant recipients and those eligible for non-Virginia Medicaid in their home country, and the pool would cover the cost of the Aetna grants until the end of the 2023 academic year. -24.
The cost of the Aetna Student Health Insurance Plan is $ 3,100 and is subject to increases each year. According to the bill, this cost is “particularly damaging” to low-income students with non-Virginia or out-of-state Medicaid insurance, which does not transfer from state to state. Many of these students graduate with insurance debt of over $ 12,000.
Given the University’s need-based loan ceilings, which limit need-based loans to $ 7,000 per year for out-of-state students, the University offers no assistance to students who purchase the Aetna student health insurance scheme. All students enrolling at the University must show proof of a health insurance plan – students who do not submit a waiver by the annual deadline are automatically enrolled in the Aetna Student Health plan.
The bill cites the University’s vast resources and the ongoing $ 5 billion promotional campaign as alternatives to increasing tuition fees beyond the 2023-24 academic year. Announced in 2018, the $ 5 billion fundraising campaign launched in 2019 and will run through 2025. The money raised will be used to advance the University’s core priorities, which include faculty, access of students, scholarships and affordability.
Beyond the 2023-24 academic year, the bill urges the university administration to allocate private funding for Aetna Student Health Plan grants and steer the increase in tuition fees to support debt relief for former university students.
“Insurance is a service of life or death for many students, and especially low-income students, who cannot afford emergency care without insurance,” the bill says.
Representative Ella Tynch, a third-year college student, asked what Liu’s response was to those who saw him campaigning on the promise to make the cost of attending college more affordable, especially after Liu worked with other members of the Student Council and Young Democratic Socialists. from America to U.Va. last year to campaign for the tuition freeze put in place by the Visitors Council. In addition, as Liu’s campaign platform called for a tuition fee freeze, Liu also said he plans to make the Aetna student health plan more affordable with a grant program and an extension of the program. payment of three to six months.
“What’s your plan to tell people if a big tuition hike is being proposed?” Tynch asked. “What are you going to say to people who say well ‘why do you want to do this, I thought you were against a tuition hike” and how can you guarantee that this is going to lead to these insurance subsidies? “
Liu replied that since a tuition freeze this year is unlikely, it is in the interest of the Student Council to ensure that part of the likely tuition increase this year goes down. cost of health insurance for students.
Ahead of next week’s meeting, Liu said he hoped to amend the bill so that tuition fee increases would be reallocated to a pool to support health insurance scholarships for low-income students in the University.
“The tact we have decided to take this year is rather than fighting for freezes, to fight to make sure that any increases go to programs that actually support students just because a freeze is so unlikely,” he said. Liu said at the meeting. “That is why we are putting this resolution on hold – rather than advocating for a further increase, I would like to target the increase that is already happening and that is why we will table the resolution tonight.”
The bill has been tabled and will be discussed at the general assembly next week. The Student Council meets weekly on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. in the Newcomb South Boardroom.