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US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to hold town-hall at UNC

As a part of a larger initiative by the Obama administration to get in touch with young Americans, UNC will host a town-hall style forum.

Led by U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, the forum follows President Barack Obama’s announcement of a new initiative aimed at increasing college affordability, among other issues mentioned in the State of the Union address.

“It provides an opportunity for Carolina stakeholders to engage a member of the Obama administration and to better understand some of their policies,” said Miles Lackey, director of UNC’s Office of Federal Affairs.

“It also provides stakeholders with opportunities to voice concerns and pose questions.”

The White House will pay for the visit.

The event will cover a wide range of issues, said Student Body President Mary Cooper.

“Student debt — UNC has a unique and valued perspective on that,” Cooper said. “To any college student, that is the most relevant thing.”

The Office of Federal Affairs, student government and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp organized the event.

Cooper notified many student organizations to involve a range of students in the forum.

Sophomore Kate Matthews, co-president of UNC’s Roosevelt Institute, a policy think tank on campus, said her organization will be participating in the forum.

“This is something that Obama doesn’t have to do, reaching out to constituents,” she said, adding that it will let students be connected to the political process.

“He’s not going to leave the State of the Union address as a bunch of words,” she said.

Donovan’s career with the Obama administration has been focused on affordable housing.

He has previously been a consultant to the Millennial Housing Commission and commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

Following the State of the Union, Obama held a similar forum at the University of Michigan, and Donovan held a student forum at Marquette University.

To attend, students can visit to register. There are 200 seats available in the Morehead Planetarium East Room.

“We are pleased that Carolina was chosen in the aftermath of the State of the Union,” Crisp said. “It gives us great exposure and allows us to showcase what a great University we are.”

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