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Vote will dictate UNC’s role in ASG

Photo: Vote will dictate UNC’s role in ASG (Madeline Will)

Today could mark another milestone in the UNC Association of Student Governments’ rocky history.

The body meant to represent students across the state has been criticized for ineffectiveness, despite its repeated attempts to reform, and today’s vote will determine student opinion on UNC-CH’s place in the association.

Other schools have left the association before, but have always returned. Now, depending on the outcome of a referendum placed on the runoff ballot, UNC-CH could permanently leave ASG.

“Something like this has never been done before,” said Zach De La Rosa, speaker of UNC-CH Student Congress.

If students vote to remain in the association, UNC-CH Student Congress will form a committee to present its recommendations to ASG President Atul Bhula, he said.

If not, the vote will kick-start a petitioning process to withdraw the University from the association and eliminate the $1 fee that students pay every year, he said.

“At no time will UNC pay the fee and not be a member,” he said.

De La Rosa said members of UNC-CH Student Congress would present the resolution to the UNC-system Board of Governors in April. If the board approves the resolution, students would not have to pay the fee next year, he said.

But De La Rosa said it is more likely that the board would defer approval to the University’s administration, and the fee would go through a series of committee votes in the fall until it reached the board again. Pending board approval, the fee could then be eliminated for the 2013-14 year.

He said UNC-CH’s delegation will attend the association’s monthly meetings during the process.

But student leaders have expressed concern about what would happen if the University officially withdrew from ASG.

UNC-CH Student Body President Mary Cooper has asked students to vote to stay in ASG.

“Chapel Hill as a flagship has a unique relationship with the other universities,” she said. “We benefit from hearing what’s happening at their campuses, and they benefit from having us involved.”

She said the association has given her an outlet to lobby the state legislature and speak at the Board of Governors meeting.

The candidates for student body presidents are divided in their stance about the association.

Candidate Will Leimenstoll said he thinks the University should stay in ASG.

“There is a need for a lot of reform in ASG, but I don’t think we can afford to lose any allies we have in the budget discussions.”

He said that if elected student body president, he wants a leadership role in the association.

“If you want to reform an organization, you need to stay in it.”

But candidate Calvin Lewis Jr. said he endorses a vote to pull out.

“I’m voting no because it’s ineffective and attempts to make it more effective haven’t worked.”

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He said if elected, he will create a new organization that will be more efficient and streamlined.

Bhula said the association’s representation has improved in the past few years due to the attendance of all 17 campuses.

He said all monthly meetings are open, but few critics attend.

“I would like for the critics of ASG not just to criticize it, but give constructive criticism because that’s how you further an organization,” he said.

But Marc Seelinger, the main sponsor of the resolution, said the criticisms of the association are valid.

“Going to a meeting is useful for understanding an organization,” he said. “I don’t think it’s necessary.”

UNC-CH’s vote could spur similar resolutions across the state.

Patrick Devore, a member of N.C. State University’s Student Congress, said the resolution inspired his school’s push to remove NCSU’s $1 fee to ASG.

But Brian McCormick, student body president of UNC-Pembroke, said small schools rely on ASG for resources and look to bigger schools for guidance.

“If (UNC-CH) pulled out, it would make it harder for us to collaborate.”

Reggie McCrimmon, student body president of N.C. Central University, said UNC-CH has played an active role in ASG.

“But if one school pulls out, that just means we all have to step up and work harder,” he said.

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