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UNC students voted on Friday to retain the University’s membership in the UNC-system Association of Student Governments by a scant 1.5-point margin — a narrow victory that UNC student leaders say indicates the need for extensive reform of the organization.

ASG, which is funded by a $1 annual student fee, is a student advocacy organization composed of delegates from all 17 UNC-system schools.

A total of 1,925 students voted in this year’s election, about 7 percent of UNC’s student body — 50.75 percent of those students voted to stay in ASG while 49.25 percent voted to leave.

A similar referendum was put on the student body president ballot in 2012, but the vote was decided by a much larger 16.6-point margin. Of the 4,600 students who voted in that election, 57.4 percent supported UNC remaining in ASG.

UNC Student Body President Christy Lambden said this year’s outcome shows that students desire reform of the association.

“My interpretation of the results are that the students have expressed a dissatisfaction with the way that ASG has been working,” he said.

Student Congress Speaker Pro-Tempore John Guzek said he was disappointed that the referendum failed by about 30 votes — but the vote started an important dialogue.

“I talked to Christy, and he said we’ve already gained leverage in this discussion just by getting it out in a vote,” he said.

For ASG President Robert Nunnery, the results of the vote were a relief.

“It was very satisfying to see that students wanted to stay inside the group,” Nunnery said.

He said he acknowledges that improvement to ASG is necessary and said the vote reinforced the need to take a step back and reevaluate the association as a whole.

Last week, 11 student body presidents met to discuss reform to the organization. Nunnery came towards the end, Lambden said.

Though Nunnery had compiled recommendations to present at the December meeting of student body presidents, Lambden said those plans were not extensive enough.

Nunnery said every aspect of the association is on the table for reform, including the structure of the group itself, which Guzek said is flawed.

“Many in Student Congress are supportive of putting ASG through an entire reforming process, whether that would be a different organization or a completely different ASG,” he said.

Speaker of UNC Student Congress Connor Brady said in an email that UNC delegates will continue to attend meetings.

“We plan to make our voices heard loudly and clearly that ASG isn’t getting the job done — because of how close the vote was.”

state@dailytarheel.com

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