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ASG participation challenged

Another petition is floating around campus.

Members of UNC College Republicans are collecting signatures to get a referendum regarding the University’s participation in the UNC Association of Student Governments on the general election ballot on Feb. 8.

The association consists of student delegates from all 17 of the University system’s institutions and is funded by $1 in student fees every year.

The University’s participation in the association has faced criticism in recent years and now the College Republicans are working toward gaining more than 2,900 signatures by Feb. 2 to get the referendum on the ballot.

“We never had a vote about whether we should join this,” said UNC College Republicans Chairman, Anthony Dent. “If you’re for ASG or against ASG, we should have a vote.”

The College Republicans have collected 500 signatures since they started petitioning Wednesday.

“We just want democracy on this issue,” Dent said.

But it is ultimately up to the UNC-system Board of Governors to approve a student fee, said the association’s President Atul Bhula.

“A student referendum is not binding per se,” he said.

“Representatives of ASG generally pay their own travel and hotel,” Bhula said.

But without the fee to help alleviate expenses of the representatives, ASG might become a very elitist group just for students who can afford being a part of it, he said.

Bhula said it’s fair to ask students to put $1 toward ASG when they are already putting so much money toward other campus groups.

He said ASG saves students millions.

“We make sure our representatives understand how students are hurting,” Bhula said. “The return on investment with ASG is much greater than anything else.”

Dakota Williams, UNC student and ASG senior vice president, said he is not opposed to the vote, but like Bhula, he is unsure whether a student vote actually has the authority to remove a student fee.

“I don’t know if we as a student body have the power to do this,” Williams said.

“The fee itself was implemented by the Board of Governors in a democratic process, but not a direct one,” he said.

He also said no one from the UNC College Republicans spoke on the issue with either him or Bhula.

“I will be impressed if they get 3,000 votes,” he said.

“If UNC withdraws, it will look irresponsible on our part,” Williams said. “But it will look great if the students shut it down.”

The six student body president candidates had varying reactions to the petition and plans as to how to address ASG if they are elected.

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