The University’s student body decided Tuesday to remain a part of an organization that benefits from an annual $1 fee from all students in the system.
According to unofficial results, in a 57.4 percent to 40.8 percent vote, students opted to keep UNC-CH’s participation in the UNC Association of Student Governments — an organization made up of student body presidents and delegates from each of the 17 UNC-system schools.
Participation in the organization has been a contested issue during this year’s student body president election, and members of UNC’s Student Congress approved Feb. 7 a resolution to place the University’s participation in ASG on the run-off ballot as a referendum.
ASG meets monthly at a different UNC campus to discuss issues affecting students, such as tuition increases, budget cuts and other program proposals that the association works to implement.
But the association has also faced criticism throughout its history and has faced claims that its absorption of $221,727 in total fees is a waste.
Other schools, such as UNC-Asheville and UNC-Charlotte, have left the association but continued to pay the annual $1 fee while they were inactive. The schools’ delegates eventually returned to the association.
This year’s critics say the organization hasn’t been as effective as it could have been, targeting the association’s president Atul Bhula for his lack of a voice at UNC-system Board of Governors meetings.
But Speaker of UNC-CH Student Congress Zach De La Rosa, who is also a UNC-CH delegate at ASG, said he is not disappointed in how the results turned out.
“A lot of students feel optimistic that the association can do some good,” he said.
“So what I hope — moving forward — is that we can really begin to examine how the inner structure works.”
Will Leimenstoll, who was elected student body president Tuesday night with 62.7 percent of the vote, said he’s glad to see UNC remain within the association.
“The Board of Governors — they don’t want to speak to the student body president of UNC-CH,” he said. “They want to speak to a representative of the entire system.”
If the students had voted to pull UNC’s participation, it is unclear as to whether UNC would be able to drop the annual $1 fee paid by each student.
The Board of Governors would have to approve the disbandment of the system-wide $1 fee, which was approved by the board in March 2002.
Student Body President Mary Cooper pushed for UNC to remain in the association.
“The best place to make ASG better and more effective for students is to remain within it and make changes,” she said. “The system is by no means perfect. We really do need to consider strong changes to make it the best it can be for the students.”
Former ASG President Greg Doucette said he understands many of the complaints about this year’s association, but UNC Student Congress’ push to get the decision on the ballot was too hasty.
“For better or worse, as much as ASG sucks now, you still have an institution that can be fixed if people actually do it,” he said.
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