CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In an unprecedented election, the University of Virginia student body has elected Abel Liu as its Student Council president. Liu is the first university student government president who was openly transgender upon election in the nation (on record). Liu also sets a milestone as University of Virginia’s first Chinese-American Student Council president in its 202-year history. Capturing more than 81 percent of the votes, Liu is focused on fundamentally reforming student government and running his platform based on equity, empowerment, and renewal.
“We are excited to announce that Abel Liu is the first University of Virginia openly transgender and first Chinese-American Student Council president in the history of the school,” said Blair Smith, president of The Queer Student Union at U.Va. “He is a fierce leader and a testament to change, equity and inspiration to all.”
Liu is a third-year Echols Scholar majoring in Sociology and Economics and has been an active member of the school’s political landscape. He currently serves as chair of the Student Council representative body, where he oversees representatives from all undergraduate and graduate schools. Liu has also held positions in various Student Council and University Board committees including the Financial Accessibility Committee and the Ad-Hoc Committee to Support Student Workers.
“I facilitate change at the university level that centers on empowerment, radical compassion, and the redress of historical injustices,” said Liu. “These themes align with our national conversation, so I hope to champion a model of student government that can drive equitable reform across the country. I’m proud to be part of this change, to get things done, and to make a real impact in people’s lives.”
Building Student Morale & Change During Pandemic
During the pandemic, Liu has been instrumental in building student morale and equity for students. He co-founded the U.Va. Mutual Aid network, which has since distributed over $70,000 to support over 650 students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Liu also successfully lobbied for the credit/general credit/ no credit option for this academic year alongside the Young Democratic Socialists of America and the First-Generation Low-Income Partnership at U.Va. As a result, the University adopted the grading change for the entire 2020-2021 academic year. The policy eases educational inequities exacerbated by COVID-19 and allows UVA’s 17,000 undergraduate students to prioritize their mental health.
Additionally, Liu said his work as the co-creator of an equity-oriented COVID-19 reopening working group helped to secure pay for student workers during operating freezes and ensure wellness days this semester.
“This is an important and overdue step toward full participation and representation of all students,” said Julie Caruccio, assistant vice president of student affairs and associate dean of students. “The fact that Abel earned a landslide victory in the face of multiple instances of transphobia should be understood for what it is: a clear message that ideas and effort prevail here."
A native of San Francisco, a city known for political change and LGBTQ rights, Liu attended Redwood High School in Marin County and was captain of the Speech and Debate Team, president of Gay, Transgender, Straight Alliance Club, and was salutatorian. While at Redwood High School, he founded Elix Incubator LLC, an internationally acclaimed impact incubator program for student entrepreneurs. Additionally, in the summer of 2020, Liu interned as a Cisco business analyst, where he consulted for Global Partner Readiness and Central Partner Operation teams on strategic growth and positioning.
For more information on Abel Liu, visit:
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/abelgliu
- Instagram: abelgliu
About The Queer Student Union at the University of VA
QSU organizes at the University of Virginia around three central pillars. By educating ourselves and others about queer identity, we are cultivating an empathetic community that understands and respects us. By building community through social activities and special events, we are bringing LGBTQ students together for friendship and solidarity. And by pursuing activism on behalf of UVA’s queer community, we are helping to ensure that we have a united voice with which to work toward a more accepting University.