Student Congress rejected the UCommons referendum Tuesday night, leaving it up to the student body to place the bill on the Feb. 8 ballot.
Only three of about 20 Congress members in attendance voted to approve the fee, which would charge every UNC $8 every semester for the next 30 years, beginning in the 2011-12 academic year.
Several Congress members said UCommons, the proposed second phase of renovation project for the Student Union, was an unnecessary move in a time of financial hardship. The project was met with its first unexpected resistance Jan. 11 when presented to the student affairs committee of Congress.
Student Union officials who came to the meeting said students deserve the right to vote on a fee increase that would fund renovations of the building’s bottom floor to provide meeting rooms and utilize the space better. Phase 1 of the project, already set to finish in August, will bring a Wendy’s and meeting rooms to the Student Union’s east wing.
“It’s in the best interest of the students to be able to vote on this, as the space is really under-utilized,” said Tyler Mills, president of the Student Union. “We have a cohesive plan for this.”
Although the bill failed in Congress, there are still options for advocates who want to see the referendum on the ballot Feb. 8.
Students have the opportunity to gather signatures of 10 percent of the student body in the form of petition to Student Body President Hogan Medlin.
Based on the fall 2010 head-count enrollment figure from the University registrar, a minimum of 2,939 signatures would be necessary, said Andrew Phillips, chairman of the Board of Elections.
If students succeed in gathering valid signatures, Medlin would direct the board to add the referendum to the ballot. The fee will be implemented if at least 2.5 percent of the student body votes on the measure and a majority of those students vote in its favor.