The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday October 27th

UNC Student Code conflict of interest clause might be altered

Leaders criticize con?ict of interest

The Student Code policy preventing some student government members from also participating in the Honor Court has come under fire.

At a meeting Tuesday of the Student Congress, District 6 representative Lee Storrow accused Jagir Patel and Taylor Mercado of violating the code’s conflict of interest clause.

Patel and Mercado serve as vice chairman and vice chairwoman on their respective committees within the executive branch of student government. They also serve on the Honor Court.

Though he proposed a resolution that would have brought the two before the student congress ethics committee, Storrow said on Wednesday that his true intention was to call attention to the conflict of interest — and to have the section prohibiting involvement in both the Honor Court and student government reviewed.

“Congress was frustrated that the law was not followed. It is important that we do follow the law,” Storrow said, adding that the executive branch is likely to make an alteration to the policy. “There are members of (student) congress that are very supportive of changing the policy, that it is outdated.”

The policy in question prohibits student government members at or above the rank of committee co-chairman from serving on the Honor Court. As part of the resolution, Storrow alleged that Patel and Mercado served as de facto chairmen on their respective committees and held the title of vice chairman to circumvent the policy.

Mercado could not be reached for comment. Patel declined to comment.

The language of the resolution was changed at the Tuesday meeting to merely suggest their appearance before the ethics committee instead of ordering them to do so.

Student Body Secretary Ian Lee said the policy, as it pertains to the Honor Court, is unnecessary, arguing that there is no overlap between the two institutions.

“There is no relation to what student government does on a day to day basis,” he said, adding that the issue has been raised with Student Body President Hogan Medlin. “Members of Honor Court are not allowed to talk about cases.”

Lee further said he believes changing the policy would not prevent members of student government from representing their positions fairly.

“It would have no detrimental effect on student government,” he said.

Should the executive branch take action to change the law, it would have to be approved by the student congress rules and judiciary committee, before being brought to student congress for the following week, Storrow said.

He also said that the Student Code will likely be changed to permit membership in both groups, which would in turn make it unnecessary for Patel and Mercado to appear before the ethics committee.

Contact the University Editor at udesk@unc.edu.

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