At a packed meeting of Student Congress Tuesday night, the body denied a funding request of about $20,000 by the College Republicans to bring pundit Ann Coulter to campus, and endorsed a gender-neutral housing option.
Members said they felt the price tag for the proposed event by the College Republicans was too high, and the request fell short by a vote of six to eight, with 13 representatives abstaining.
During the debate of the request, Young Democrats President and district six representative Nathan Westmoreland pointed out that, if granted, the $20,468 request would account for almost 13 percent of Student Congress’s budget.
It was the second time that UNC’s College Republicans requested funds to bring Coulter to speak.
The first time the student group appeared before the body, Student Congress approved $5,000 for the event coupled with $15,000 in a loan, to be paid back through fundraising.
The College Republicans eventually abandoned the effort, and the bill to approve the funds was vetoed by Student Body President Mary Cooper, who said expecting a group to raise $15,000 in a short period of time was a dangerous precedent.
Greg Steele, president of UNC’s College Republicans, said in an interview after the meeting that he was shocked by the vote to deny funding.
“I absolutely didn’t think there would be any debate.”
He added that he is unsure whether the group will continue pursuing a speech by Coulter.
The question of money took a back seat when it came time to discuss the resolution on a gender-neutral housing option, which would allow male and female students to live in the same rooms in residence halls.
Westmoreland was the primary sponsor of the resolution that proposed giving the initiative Student Congress’ symbolic support.
While the Young Democrats have also formalized their support of the proposal, Westmoreland appeared before Student Congress as an individual sponsor of the bill.
Cooper spoke in favor of the resolution, saying that a gender-neutral housing option might boost admissions and create a more inclusive campus environment.
“I have already signed a letter of support from the executive branch of student government,” Cooper said.
She said that, during a campus tour this summer, one student asked if gender-neutral housing was an option and when he found out it was not, decided to look at other universities.
Some members of Student Congress questioned the proposal because it did not include a specific plan of action for the implementation of the new housing option.
But multiple representatives pointed out that more than 100 universities nationwide have already implemented gender non-specific housing options, including Duke University.
Student Congress voted narrowly in favor of the resolution.
The resolution needed the favor of a two-thirds majority of Student Congress to vote in favor. That requirement was met by one vote, with 20 voting in favor, four against and three abstaining.
The resolution will be included with other letters of the support in the official proposal, which will be presented to Chancellor Holden Thorp in about a week.
Student Congress also elected two new leaders at Tuesday’s meeting. Adam Horowitz, formerly chairman of the oversight committee, was elected to speaker pro tempore by the full body. To take Horowitz’s place, Marc Seelinger was elected to chairman of the oversight committee.
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