The Code states that the student body president shall “represent the student body, especially in dealing with the students of other schools, with the faculty, with the administration, with the employees, with the Board of Trustees and with the Board of Governors.”
One of Carson’s major opportunities as a voice for students was expressing students’ concerns about tuition and fee increases.
But an accelerated tuition schedule left Carson’s administration with less time than expected to organize student tuition forums and mobilize student protests.
About 30 students showed up to protest the board’s Nov. 15 vote to increase tuition for out-of-state students. Nearly 200 students came to the previous year’s meeting.
Carson said her style as president has ultimately moved away from forums as a large source of student input. “I don’t like to sound pessimistic, but the kids who go to forums are the kids who have already come to me and told me their thoughts,” she said.
Instead Carson said she uses her social connections, the student government blog and meetings with student leaders to keep her finger on the pulse of undergraduate opinion.
Although Carson has worked with groups to bring some concerns to the administration, progress does not always follow.
“Eve and her Cabinet have done as much as they can to follow up with our group this year,” said Salma Mirza, organizer of the UNC chapter of Student Action with Workers. “It’s more of a matter of the University not listening to them than Eve not listening to us.”
SAW regularly brings protests and concerns to the UNC administration about rights for laborers.
And from an administrative point of view, Carson conveys many student messages well.
“Eve compares very well with the last four student government presidents I’ve worked with,” said Margaret Jablonski, vice chancellor for student affairs. “She’s been as effective or more effective in working with the Board of Trustees.”
At meetings with administrators and officials, Carson said she brings “student experts” to offer firsthand experiences, such as last semester when she invited Carolina Covenant scholars to share their stories with trustees.
Although some students do go to meetings and voice their opinions, others, like freshman Cara Donnelly, said there is not enough readily available information to know how to voice thoughts and ideas.
“Eve spoke at (Convocation), but I haven’t heard from her specifically this year,” Donnelly said. “It’s not like I have an e-mail address (for her). As a freshman, I feel like information should be more available.”
And that’s been one of the biggest challenges for Carson: hearing the voices of all students, given her limited amount of time in office.
“We have a year here, and it’s important to recognize leadership, develop it and mentor it,” Carson said.
“It’s important that you welcome students from the moment they come to campus and say, ‘We want to hear your ideas.’”
Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Evaluating the Carson administration
Today: Carson as a student representative
Tuesday: Carson as a delegator