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The Daily Tar Heel

Congress Metes Out Diminishing Funds

Congress passed several bills allocating money to student groups and also passed a resolution calling for safety at the Carolina Power & Light Co. Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant.

Congress members have found themselves with much less money to distribute to student organizations than originally expected for the year and had to confront that problem in giving out the night's appropriations.

"Be steady. Be consistent. Try and afford (student) groups the same opportunities as before," said Patrick Frye, student body treasurer, before Congress heard from student organizations.

Congress allocated $997.50 total to the Hellenic Student Association, the Carolina Electronic Music Symposium and the N.C. Student Rural Health Coalition.

Speaker Alexandra Bell said the lack of funds is rooted in Congress spending habits going back nine or 10 years.

Bell said recent funding problems also stem not from bad decisions, but from more student organizations than expected requesting money.

"We could remedy the problem by borrowing from next year's Congress (funds)," Bell said. "But the general consensus is not to do that."

She said Congress should consider the option of fund raising to combat the lack of funds.

Campus affairs were not the only major concern of the night - Congress also discussed the impact of CP&L's handling of nuclear waste storage.

The group conducted a heated discussion for nearly an hour before voting 16 to 5 in support of a nonbinding resolution for nuclear safety in central North Carolina.

The Student Environmental Action Coalition made a loud visual statement, stringing postcards signed by students supporting a resolution for nuclear safety around the room and performing a skit summarizing their desires.

"We're just following the lead of local groups calling for open discussion of the issues," said Margie Wakelin, SEAC co-campaign coordinator.

"We believe the University has been silent on this issue."

A major concern for some Congress members was that Congress was stretching the limits of its job description.

"I agree with everything (SEAC) said. It's not a matter of the issue," said Matt Fisher, the Ethics Committee chairman. "I know there's a precedent (for passing resolutions), but we are a legislative, not a judicial body, so we don't have to follow precedent."

Other concerns included whether Congress would marginalize its voice by continuing to pass resolutions and whether the resolution would properly represent the views of the student body.

But many members said the University community deserved a voice of representation.

Sandi Chapman, speaker pro tem of Congress said, "(Taking a stance for the student body) is exactly what we're here for."

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