Student Congress to vote on ASG resolution tonight

UNC-CH Student Congress will meet today to vote on a resolution to allow students to vote if the University should stay in the system’s Association of Student Governments.

The resolution passed unanimously through the body’s Rules & Judiciary Committee last week, and now waits to be voted on by the full Congress. If passed, students will vote on the resolution Nov. 8 — the same ballot as the Homecoming run-off elections.

ASG, funded by an annual $1 student fee, is composed of student delegates from all 17 UNC-system schools and meets monthly to discuss student advocacy initiatives.

For years, the association has been criticized for having poor organization and efficiency.

In 2012, UNC-CH tried to leave the association in the same way — but students voted to stay in the association. That referendum was attached to the student body president ballot.

While the student body president at the time was optimistic about ASG, current Student Body President Christy Lambden said he is still dissatisfied with what he sees as a lack of progress.

“Overall, ASG has not performed in the way that was planned and has been stagnant,” Lambden said.

The resolution would gauge how the UNC-CH students feels about the association, said Connor Brady, speaker of the UNC Student Congress. But the decision allowing UNC-CH to leave the association is ultimately up to the system’s Board of Governors.

If UNC-CH decides to leave ASG and the Board of Governors approves, the $1 student fee will be canceled for the next year. Lambden said he will continue to attend association meetings during his term, as long as the students are paying the fee.

Many UNC-system student body presidents said UNC-CH leaving ASG would affect the association significantly, as UNC-CH provides about 13 percent of ASG’s budget.

“There’s no doubt that if Chapel Hill does withdraw … the association will have to reform the way it finances itself,” Lambden said.

And ASG President Robert Nunnery is able to speak during Board of Governors’ meetings as a nonvoting member, so if UNC-CH leaves ASG, it risks giving up a voice on the Board of Governors.

Lambden said his main concern is in ASG’s lack of advocacy in proportion with the budget.

ASG currently spends about $20,000 on advocacy and about $30,000 on stipends, but only five resolutions have passed in the last three meetings, Lambden said.

“It’s supposed to be an advocacy organization, and its spending a minimal amount of the budget on advocacy,” he said.

But Nunnery disagrees.

“I’m proud of the way we’ve advocated for students,” Nunnery said, adding that the association has authored letters taking stances on bills that affect students.

Smaller schools also benefit from being a part of ASG, student body presidents said.

“We’re a baby school,” said Student Body President Leigh Whittaker of UNC-Asheville. “We don’t have much political influence unless we’re standing with our fellow schools.”

Student Body President Crystal Bayne of UNC-Greensboro said she would prefer that UNC-CH continue reforming ASG from within.

In spite of ASG’s faults, the six system student body presidents interviewed said they hope it will improve. Some said because of the tension between UNC-system students and the Republican-led government, it is crucial that universities work together.

“This is a day and time when we need this organization,” said Dylan Russell, student body president of Appalachian State University.

state@dailytarheel.com

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