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UNC Student Congress to debate new oversight bill

The way Student Congress accounts for its property held by student organizations will be streamlined significantly if a bill presented before the body passes tonight.

The bill would require student organizations to provide an inventory of all items bought with student funds that cost more than $15 within two weeks of each purchase.

Organizations would be required to provide such inventories before they could request money from Student Congress, said Marc Seelinger, chairman of the oversight committee of Student Congress.

The committee ­­­— created in the spring to ensure accountability within student government — passed the bill Nov. 15. One of its purposes is to keep records of financial transactions by student organizations that use student government money.

Sponsors say it will increase accountability for student government property and encourage sharing among student organizations.

“This will just save the students money because if they know we’re keeping track of it, they’ll take better care of it,” said Jared Simmons, chairman of the finance committee.

“We just want to make sure all students are accountable to their peers.”

If two-thirds of Student Congress votes to pass the bill Tuesday, the accountability bill will be enacted in time for the next round of appropriations.

“The point of the bill is acknowledging that there are resources to be shared,” Speaker of Student Congress Zach De La Rosa said.

There are no specific enforcement mechanisms written into the bill, Seelinger said. But the Student Code does permit the oversight committee to perform random audits, he said.

According to the code, student government owns all items bought with funding appropriated by Student Congress.

Inventories provided by organizations will include the locations and values of the items.

The bill will mostly affect dance groups and other groups that rely on lots of equipment, Simmons said, adding that funding for props and costumes is a problem.

“We cannot afford to buy custom tailored costumes for every show,” he said.

“The biggest concern is where to draw the line at what items can be shared,” De La Rosa said.

An outfit that is fitted to a particular person can be potentially ruined, or problems could arise when dance groups are performing at the same time, he said.

“The whole idea of trying to share costumes sounds really difficult just because all the compositions are really different,” said Blair Ellis, a member of UNC’s Carolina Style Dance Company.

Choreographers have a certain vision for the dance that might not come across if the costumes have to be reused, she said.

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