One of the greatest traditions that we uphold at UVa is our devotion to the idea of student self-governance. I’m not sure if this is a new term for you, but if it is, rest assured that it is not a difficult concept to grasp – it means what it says; at our university, the students decide which issues are important and, subsequently, the students lead the initiatives to make things happen. From seemingly trivial issues, such as where to place recycling receptacles around grounds, to more grave situations, like trial proceedings for a peer accused of breaking the honor code, it is individual students who make up the groups that ultimately decide what happens. Opportunities to join groups (which we lovingly refer to as “CIOs”) arise all the time, and, particularly, the Student Activities Fair that occurs at the beginning of each semester is when organizations do the majority of their membership recruitment. Moreover (even though it seems like there is something for everyone here), if you find out that what you’re looking for doesn’t quite exist yet, you are encouraged to start an organization yourself! Not only does it take the student body’s feeling of accountability to a whole new level, but it is a system that embodies everything Mr. Jefferson’s University stands for.
Tonight was one of the rare occasions that the entire Student Council (StudCo) met as one (I think that only happens once a year, as Student Council consists of 200 members or so), and, with many of the students leaders at this university under one roof, it was pretty easy to latch onto the excitement and commitment that emanated throughout the room. Split up into various subcommittees such as Student Arts, Athletic Affairs, Environmental Sustainability (this is the committee that I am a member of), Academic Affairs, etc., StudCo encompasses a vast range of topics that directly affect the University, and is the physical embodiment of the term “student self-governance.” Among other things, in the past Student Council has: run campaigns to unify UVa with the surrounding Charlottesville community, worked closely with faculty to discuss plans for the University’s new president, partnered with local cab companies to provide free rides for students travelling alone at late hours, and countless other proposals that affect us all as UVa students. So, aside from the other million-and-one brilliant reasons as to why you should consider the University of Virginia among your top choices of colleges, you can add our strong and proud tradition of student self-governance to your list!
As always, feel free to email me any questions!