The Student Voice: What's YOUR Role in the University's Future? | UVA Student Council

I am one of those weird folks who cares way too much about the happenings of UVa. Not like the fun happenings — oh no. The strategic, policy-related, administrative happenings. You can catch me on a Friday night perusing the Strategic Planning website with a mimosa in hand and Master Chef Junior playing in the background. I live for this stuff.

I feel as intensely about strategic planning as Gordon feels about flambe-ing.

So, when the Board of Visitors approved the framework of the strategic plan (not the plan itself), it was kind of like  Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza rolled into one for me. I am over here geeking out about how exciting it is to be a student at this point in the University’s history. Who is impacted more by the University than us as students?  The strategic plan will not only impact current students’ experience, but also the legacy of the institution so many of us love. We, as a community, are taking a moment to introspect about who we are and who we want to be. It’s kind of huge.

Christmahanakwanzika came early this year. Thanks, BOV! You shouldn’t have!

As I am thinking all of these things, dear reader, on a Friday night, drinking the aforementioned mimosa, I started envisioning you — the student. I was wondering what you were doing. If you care about the strategic plan, or even, well, knew much about it. If you knew that there were student representatives on the strategic planning sub-committees, but that you can still get involved and share your thoughts about the direction in which UVa is moving . I wondered if you knew about this document that you can skim to inform yourself about the major pillars of the strategic plan (impress friends and lovers with your institutional knowledge!)

Moreover, I wanted to make sure you knew that you meetings open to the public coming up next semester. I know you’re busy, so I thought you’d want to know sooner than later. You can always find the schedule here:

  • The session is called Student Life. I mean, I’m pretty sure every student at the University has something useful to contribute here, so I would pencil this in, nay, pen it in to my planner now: Student Life Open Session, January 24th at 2.00pm in Small Auditorium in the Harrison Institute.
  • Care about the wider direction and mission of the university? Have thoughts about how to make advising suck less? Care about AccessUVa and socioeconomic diversity at UVa? Want to ensure your university degree remains prestigious, marketable, and profitable? You may want to attend the Steering Committee Open Session: January 16th, 7.00pm, Small Auditorium – Harrison Institute
  • Had an awesome professor? Had a terrible professor? Wish there were more class options related to topics you cared about?  Then the Faculty Recruitment, Retention, and Development Open Session may be for you on January 14th at 12.00pm in the Newcomb Ballroom
  • Wonder what the heck they even mean by streamlining? Like the idea of more efficiency and less bureaucracy at the University level? Just like to use buzzwords? Hit up the Streamlining Open Session on January at 11.00am in Newcomb’s South Meeting Room.

Too busy for such things?  Holla at the Strategic Planning Steering Committee folks here and share your awesome ideas or write Katharine Sadowski (kcs3au) or Lansing Lee (lcl5x) who are serving as the undergraduate and graduate representatives on the steering committee, thus representing much of the student voice in this process.

The good lookin’ folks who are representing the student voice in the SP process.

I just can’t emphasize enough how important it is that you get involved however you can and however you see fits for you. As it stands now, the strategic plan reads like a really great sounding (but really vague) brainstorm. BUT! we’re moving in to its next stage, carving out what it will look like in action, getting specific, and molding something that will shape the University’s future for decades to come. Share your thoughts and embody the ideal of student self-governance. This is, after all, your university — isn’t it?

Let me know if you’d like to have a strategic planning party in my Lefevre apartment (

Janelle S. Peifer

Representative, Curry Graduate School | Chair, Graduate Affairs Committee