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Fight for our dollar: Skepticism and scrutiny should be hallmark of Medlin’s involvement in ASG

If Student Body President Hogan Medlin is intent on working with the Association of Student Governments, he must enter the organization with a skeptical eye aimed toward reform.

Students at UNC send a dollar of their fees to this systemwide organization, which purports to lobby on their behalf.

In reality, the organization spends the vast amount of its effort channeling students’ money into stipends for officers and staff as well as travel expenses.

ASG apologists note, correctly, that participation is dependent upon officers being paid for their work and student body presidents being able to afford travel to meetings.

But the results do not match the funds. And even with cuts to the stipends, the budget is lopsided.

Student body presidents — including Medlin and former president Jasmin Jones — know it.

Jones and other presidents voiced their concerns at an ASG meeting back in March. Medlin has stated that he wishes more money would be spent on campus-based initiatives and less on stipends.

It seems that there is no better way to spend money on campus-based initiatives than simply to not send almost $30,000 to an off-campus organization to begin with.

But getting the dollars back is not likely to happen soon.

Medlin has the right mindset, though. His statements on the issue indicate that he recognizes that students aren’t getting their money’s worth out of ASG.

ASG gets its dollars regardless of its priorities or performance. Withstanding the court of public opinion, it’s up to the members themselves to scrutinize how the dollars are spent.

Medlin is now in a position to do that — but taking anything less than a hard line in dealing with ASG will not be enough.

Criticism in the flavor of Jones’ at the March ASG meeting should be Medlin’s attitude from day one. Persistence in challenging the organization’s priorities and performance will be key.

Medlin cannot forget that he was elected by UNC students, to represent UNC students. All other priorities should be subordinate to fighting for their best interest.

That means making ASG a worthwhile investment. He will be hard-pressed to deliver.

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