ELIZABETH CITY — Low attendance at Saturday’s UNC Association of Student Governments meeting prohibited members from voting on legislation and called into question the association’s effectiveness yet again.
It has been three years since the group last failed to achieve a quorum — the minimum number of delegates necessary to vote on legislation. The group takes $1 in fees annually from each student in the 17-school UNC system, and meets monthly to discuss student needs.
The meeting was held at Elizabeth City State University, which is located in the northeast corner of the state and is not in a central location for most delegates.
On Saturday, the association needed 35 delegates to achieve a quorum because all 68 of its delegates were considered active.
“Getting quorum usually isn’t a problem if folks feel like the group is doing something,” said Greg Doucette, who served as ASG president for the 2008 and 2009 academic years.
“It’s more challenging at ECSU,” he said. “But it’s doable if ASG is doing what it’s supposed to be doing.”
The group met quorum standards at every Saturday meeting during Doucette’s tenure as president.
“If members can’t even take pride in what they do, then it’s a really sad reflection on their ineffectualness,” said Anthony Dent, chairman of UNC’s College Republicans.
“If they really choose not to attend, that’s really lame, and they shouldn’t be a delegate,” he said.
The College Republicans launched an unsuccessful campaign last month to put a referendum regarding the University’s participation in the association on the Feb. 8 general election ballot.
“This is just one more example of why UNC should not be in this organization,” Dent said.
ASG President Atul Bhula acknowledged that some critics argue that the association isn’t producing results, but he said he doesn’t agree with that argument.
“We are dong work,” he said. “We’re advocating on behalf of the students.”
Bhula said the absent student body presidents informed him ahead of time that they would not be able to attend the meeting.
He said only members’ prior commitments and travel distance to the meeting factored into the low attendance — not lack of faith in the association.
But Dent remains skeptical.
“I don’t necessarily buy the distance as an excuse,” he said. “I just think it’s kind of lame.”
Even though members couldn’t vote on legislation, the meeting was productive because it allowed for discussion of the legislation, Bhula said.
“It’s more of an opportunity than a detriment,” Bhula said.
“I don’t believe it was a waste of time.”
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