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The Daily Tar Heel

Student Congress Rejects Finance Reform Referendum

"It is our job to pass resolutions saying things that student groups want," Speaker Mark Townsend said Thursday.

"It would be trampling on our ability to do that if they could just go straight to the student body (with a referendum)."

Townsend said the decision was essential to prevent Congress from heading down a "dangerous slope."

"If we allowed one student group to go and hold a referendum on something, then every group could," he said.

"Every group who had an interest could then go and hold an impromptu poll on election day and see what the student body thinks."

But Gregory Wahl, student affairs committee chairman, favored placing the referendum on the ballot. "It's in the (Student) Code that students can have a referendum on the ballot," he said.

While the Student Code allows students to ask for a referendum, it should be for a tangible, on-campus policy, rather than a broad national issue, Townsend said. Congressional resolutions are the preferred means of showing support for an idea or philosophy, he said.

But Congress did not just spend their time on issues of student code interpretation -- they also rejected an appropriations request that would have allowed the hiring of a second UNC lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender coordinator.

Finance Committee Chair Tony Larson said the decision to reject the request was based the Student Code's distinction between clerical and non-clerical positions. "One of the things we can't (use fees for) is paying salaries for people to do things that are non-clerical," Larson said. "We can't pay a salary from student fees for a leadership role or a planner."

Townsend said the proposed position would have been a leadership position.

"Fred (Hashagen) made it abundantly clear that this coordinator was going to be sort of administrative but sort of like a counselor-type person, too," he said.

"We had to go by the code."

Hashagen, the LGBT administrative assistant, whose position is classified as clerical and pays him a salary of $1,500 a semester, said he disagreed with Congress' reading of the Student Code.

"There was more than adequate reason to think it was allowed by the Student Code, and (Congress) chose, for whatever reason, to go with the single most stringent and illogical interpretation of that code," he said.

In other business, Congress voted to provide funds for the College Republicans to bring activist David Horowitz to campus. While some members raised questions about feasibility, the appropriation was approved with little debate.

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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