The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday March 20th

ASG looks to student involvement to limit tuition hikes

As the UNC-system Association of Student Governments prepares to tackle potential tuition and fee increases, officers say student involvement will be key.

Members of the association met at Western Carolina University Saturday to draft plans on how to best advocate for students — on the state and federal level.

“We’re making sure our students are involved (in tuition and fees talks) ­— and for the most part, it seems like they are,” said ASG President Atul Bhula.

The association is comprised of delegates from all 17 UNC-system schools and is funded by an annual $1 student fee.

Christine Hajdin, vice president of the association’s legislative and public affairs committee, said one of ASG’s main projects this year, titled “Cuts Hurt,” is designed to share students’ stories on the impact of tuition increases.

The initiative is split between a focus on N.C. legislators and members of Congress, she said.

The state side of the project consists of composing a documentary of students’ home videos, in which they detail tuition hikes’ impact on their college careers.

“It’s much more emotional, it’s much more from the heart,” she said.

The video will be presented to the N.C. General Assembly in early November, she said.

For the federal side of the project, Hajdin is compiling a video she said is similar to a commercial — highlighting students’ personal stories.

Several students, who have been drastically impacted by budget cuts, will travel with a couple of ASG members to Washington, D.C., in late February. The group will present the video and lobby for education, Hajdin said.

“Initially there has been some hesitation about that — making sure we have money to do it — but it looks like we’re going to be doing it,” she said.

Hajdin, who is helping to lead the trip, is asking ASG for about $4,000 to help pay for travel and lodging for the students who participate.

The association also discussed enlarging the pool of grant money it awards to different campuses for innovative projects.

This year the organization will allocate $17,000 to the innovation fund instead of $10,000, said Juan Virella, vice president of ASG’s government operations committee.

Hajdin said the cap might be raised slightly to increase opportunities the grant can provide.

Individual students can apply for the grant as long as their idea meets the requirements.

“It has to show that it’s going to benefit the school and the community in some way,” Hajdin said. “It’s pretty broad, which is the point.”

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