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Saturday January 22nd

Overhaul may be need to fix broken ASG, UNC-system student leaders say

The UNC-system Association of Student Governments is moving forward with reforms to its internal structure despite doubts from critics.

Student leaders have vowed to fix the body meant to represent student voices across the UNC system. Proposed reforms will be presented at the association’s next meeting on March 31.

The association is composed of student leaders across the state and is funded by a $1 annual student fee. In November, ASG President Atul Bhula created a task force to examine the group’s efficiency.

Mary Cooper, student body president of UNC-CH, is the chairwoman of the task force and has asked members to define their “ideal ASG.”

Members have suggested dramatic restructuring, including elimination of some committees and a reduction in the number of delegates each school can bring to meetings. But these changes might not be feasible in the near future.

“Due to the nature of us meeting monthly, I think the reforms will take a lot longer than we originally thought,” Cooper said.

And the ideas that were considered at the task force’s February meeting may require major changes to the association’s constitution.

Arjay Quizon, ASG’s senior vice president, said an overhaul of the constitution would have to wait until the association’s next session, which starts in August.

“Right now, we’re trying to stop the bleeding,” Quizon said. “We want to put a Band-Aid on this right now, and maybe we’ll replace the whole arm eventually.”

Cooper said the reform process has become more of a brainstorming project to pinpoint problems within the association.

“I think it needs to be more thoughtful and have a more long-term approach,” she said.

And the outside advice the members counted on is stalled.

UNC-CH Student Congress vowed to form a nine-member committee to make recommendations on improving ASG after the student body voted last month to remain in the association.

But Zach De La Rosa, speaker of UNC-CH Student Congress, said the committee was no longer in the works for this session.

“If we formed a committee, we could only meet once, forcing us to make rushed recommendations.”

Quizon said an opinion outside the association would be welcome, especially because the task force’s last meeting was not widely attended. Members from UNC-CH, N.C. State University and East Carolina University, along with ASG officers, dominated the discussions, he said.

Quizon said he has not yet seen proposed legislation from the task force, but if members approve the reforms this month, the changes will go into effect on May 1.

But former association president Greg Doucette said lengthy reforms aren’t necessary. He led a revamping of the group’s constitution during his tenure and set up the current committee structure.

“If you look at ASG’s history, whenever you have leadership that’s not doing what it’s supposed to do, they start tinkering with the organization without any regard for that fact that what they’re doing might be screwing up the organization even more,” he said.

Staff writer Ben Brandford ?contributed to reporting.

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