Jansen VanderMeulen '19
Candidates for open positions on the Student Bar Association (SBA) spoke at a debate hosted by the Virginia Law Weekly on Monday. Two positions are contested: Secretary and Treasurer. Candidates for the remaining positions made brief statements. Steven Glendon, the unopposed candidate for President, spoke first, encouraging his fellow students to apply for and fill the remaining open positions for which no one is a candidate: Representative to the UVa Student Council, American Bar Association Representative, and two 3L senator positions. Glendon pledged honest communication and joked that he hoped not to send too many emails students wouldn’t read.
Laura Gregory, a 2L is the sole candidate for Vice President. Gregory, this year’s SBA Secretary, told the crowd she looked forward to increasing SBA’s presence on Grounds, and reiterated Glendon’s call for the student body to fill the remaining open positions.
Running unopposed for the Law School’s representative to the University Judicial Committee (UJC) is Peter Bautz. Bautz, a 2L and this year’s UJC Vice Chair for Trials, reminded students to take part in voting in university-wide referenda. There will be four referenda related to the UJC and one related to Honor. Bautz stressed that, though the process of accessing the University Board of Election’s site to vote on the referenda is onerous, it is important that law students’ voices be heard.
Owen Gallogly is a 1L seeking one of the Law School’s two positions on the University Honor Committee. Gallogly, a Double Hoo, noted that he had been involved with Honor since he was a first-year on Main Grounds in 2009. Gallogly told the crowd that there is an Honor referendum on the ballot that would lower the required threshold for amendments to the Honor constitution from 60% voting for to 55% voting for. Though he strongly opposes the amendment, Gallogly urged students to vote on the referendum, regardless of their persuasion.
Lindsay Fisher is the sole candidate for the other Honor post. Fisher, a 1L, could not attend the debate due to an emergency, but she submitted a written statement. Fisher wrote to the crowd about her current position as Honor Representative for Section F. In that role, she acts as a counsel for the community, offering advice to students involved in the Honor system. She hopes more students will get involved with facilitating the Honor system.
There are two candidates for Treasurer: Hannah Fraher and Frances Fuqua. Both 1Ls, Fraher and Fuqua told the crowd about their relevant experience and goals for the position. Fraher noted her experience as a bookkeeper for several million-dollar companies and as treasurer for her undergraduate university’s student government. She pledged to create a “transparent inclusive environment,” working with the administration when possible and standing up to them when necessary. Fraher told the crowd about her positive relationship with Dean Davies, who oversees SBA spending.
Fuqua also pointed to a wealth of relevant experience as treasurer for three student organizations in undergrad, including as head of the head of the programming committee of the student government, which oversaw $760,000 in student funding. As President of the SBA First-Year Council this year, Fuqua said she coordinated 1L involvement in various Law School events, including Foxfield and the Halloween Carnival. Fuqua proposed looking into making the SBA a 501(c)(3) or (4) non-profit organization to facilitate fundraising.
On the question of administrative oversight, both Fraher and Fuqua emphasized their commitment to standing up for students, even if that meant tussling with Student Affairs. Fuqua noted that “we’re all adults,” and said the administration should be flexible in allowing students to put on the events they want, so long as those events are reasonable. Fraher agreed, mentioning that the administration can play a helpful role in helping to maintain institutional knowledge. When asked what they would do about conflicts like the unexpected rise in ticket prices for Barrister’s Ball, both candidates emphasized the importance of transparency, and both pledged to be open and honest with the student body.
The other contested position is SBA Secretary. Candidates are 1Ls Muskan Mumtaz and Toccara Nelson. Mumtaz, speaking first, pledged more visibility, more connectivity, and more transparency. She proposed a weekly SBA column in the Law Weekly to connect readers with what is happening with the SBA. She also stated her hope to expand the SBA’s student engagement efforts. Nelson focused on her experience, which includes working as a legal assistant for law firms, promoting events and social justice dialogue at her undergraduate university, and involvement with a plethora of UVa Law student organizations, including BLSA, Lambda, Libel, and the First-Year Council.
Both candidates expressed bemusement with the lack of student engagement in SBA activities, and pledged to try to improve it. Nelson suggested an organizational spotlight that lets students in on what student groups are doing around North Grounds, and a new, “Say Hey, SBA” program to solicit student concerns with their SBA while Mumtaz proposed a dedicated TV screen advertising organizational events and placing hyperlinks in the bi-weekly events emails to better enable students to connect with events they are interested in attending.
Polls for the election open Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. on 2/21 and remain open until 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday on 2/22. Emails will be sent to student email accounts with further instructions.