This Tuesday, you will vote on a referendum that asks if our university should remain in the UNC-system Association of Student Governments. As your student body president, I urge you to vote “Yes.”
ASG is an imperfect organization, but it plays a critical role in representing you and all the 222,000 students across the UNC system. Now is not the time to leave.
When our university’s budget is still at risk and tuition is on a dangerous trajectory, we should be focusing our energy on how ASG can be better: uniting all 17 campuses in the UNC system, developing a more robust presence in Raleigh and more forcefully amplifying student voices.
A “No” vote would stymie these efforts without generating any foreseeable benefit to students.
The resolution implies that voting “No” will save students the one dollar per year we each pay to the ASG fee, but that is simply not true.
The fee has already been approved for the 2012-13 school year, so the outcome of Tuesday’s vote will have no impact on whether you pay the fee next year.
But it will impact how your dollar is spent. Right now, UNC’s delegation to ASG is composed of four students — the speaker of Student Congress, the graduate and professional schools president, an at-large student and me — who attend ASG meetings, vote on its budget and elect the ASG president.
If we withdraw, UNC students will continue to pay the association’s fee, but we won’t have any say in how it’s spent.
The second reason we should stay in ASG is that it is the only entity legally recognized to speak on behalf of all UNC-system students; the only student who regularly has speaking privileges at Board of Governors meetings is the president of ASG.
When issues like tuition and financial aid come to a vote, state legislators and board members look to this person for the students’ perspective. In their eyes, UNC-CH should be treated no differently than UNC-Asheville, North Carolina A&T or UNC-Wilmington.
This brings me to the third reason to vote “Yes”: ASG unites all 17 student body presidents from across the state, so we can coordinate our strategies and represent you.
If UNC withdraws from ASG, we will cause irreparable damage to these relationships. Not only will it impair my ability to represent UNC students to the state, but it will also undermine ASG’s ability to speak for all students in the system.
But if we remain in ASG, I can continue the reforms I have been pushing for the past 10 months. These reforms are coming up for a vote at ASG’s meeting this weekend.
They will reduce the size of the delegation, streamline the organization’s structure and leave it better prepared to push student issues at all levels, from the University to the state legislature.
And, if the energy that has been dedicated to removing UNC from ASG were instead dedicated to making the organization better, then the sky would be the limit in the years to come.
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