ASHEVILLE — The UNC system’s student-led organization discussed changing its allotted travel budget.
Members of the UNC Association of Student Governments eliminated two officer positions from the organization’s constitution on Saturday to create more flexibility for cutting officers’ stipends and reallocating that money to increase travel funds.
The association is composed of student leaders from the 17 UNC-system institutions. Members meet once a month at different campuses, and they allocate thousands of dollars for travel and hotel funds.
Funding for the organization’s budget comes from a $1 fee from every student in the UNC system.
Associate vice president for finance and administration, a position that is second in command to overseeing the organization’s budget, was one of the positions that was cut from the constitution to compensate for travel cost deficits.
Although the organization mismanaged its travel budget, ASG President Atul Bhula said paying two officers to oversee the organization’s budget was unnecessary and supported cutting one of those positions over others.
“I can’t rationalize paying two people for that position,” Bhula said at the meeting.
Many members at the meeting voiced concern that potential ethical dilemmas could arise without a second person in charge of overlooking the organization’s budget.
Arjay Quizon, the student body president at UNC-Pembroke, said he was worried about eliminating the position.
“My biggest concern here is what if our current chief financial officer leaves, the president is going to be charged with finding another person,” Quizon said at the meeting. “The person found won’t be able to hit the ground running.”
The other position that was eliminated was the associate vice president of information technology, a position that helps oversee updates to the association’s website.
“We can function without a website. We can’t function without a budget person,” said Rachel Whaley, a delegate from UNC-Asheville, at the meeting.
Members will come to an official decision at the association’s January meeting. Possible changes to associate vice president for finance and administration position will take effect next year.
Thomas Lamm Jr., the chief financial officer of the organization, said some of the reallocation of funds was not necessary.
“Moving money from month to month is not necessary because they’re basically travel accounts,” Lamm said. “But I do think it’s necessary between personnel and office equipment.”
Members of the organization also discussed improving the student voice in tuition and fees decisions.
State appropriations make up about 30 percent of the cost of campuses while tuition makes up 17 percent of the total cost.
“We’re paying all of this,” Bhula said at the meeting. “Making sure we’ve facilitated that student voice is the big concern.”
At the November UNC-system Board of Governors meeting, Bhula tried to increase student voice by encouraging board members to consider adding a student referenda to the new tuition policy, but board members didn’t act on his request.
“From now on, my job is to make sure they know we need some sort of amendment,” he said.
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