The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

UNC-system student government leaders head to DC

Student government representatives across North Carolina traveled to the nation’s capitol Sunday and Monday to lobby for student issues.

The group, which was composed mostly of outgoing student body presidents, went to Washington, D.C., to advocate for student financial aid and the paybacks of increasing federal funding for colleges and undergraduate research.

“We’ve been mostly advocating for student aid from the federal government,” said UNC-Pembroke student body president Emily Ashley . “We’ve been outlining the benefits and why it needs to continue. One issue that has also come up is the beneficial qualities of federal funding for undergraduate research, as we feel that it gives students a competitive edge when they come out of education.”

Among others in attendance were Robert Nunnery , president of the UNC-system Association of Student Governments and student body presidents Dylan Russell of Appalachian State University, Crystal Bayne from UNC-Greensboro and Alex Parker from N.C. State University, who is also next year’s ASG president.

There was no representative from UNC-Chapel Hill. Nunnery said he asked former UNC-CH Student Body President Christy Lambd en to go, but Lambden said he did not attend because it was no longer his responsibility since he left office earlier this month. Student Body President Andrew Powell did not go because he would have had to register before he even knew he won the election.

Nunnery said he expected that it would take a while for their lobbying to have real effects.

“The best outcome of our advocacy would be the passing of the Higher Education Reauthorization Act,” Nunnery said. “Having that passed in Congress, with bipartisan support, and not having it delayed until the expiry of this year, would be all we could hope for.”

If reauthorized, the act would continue to give financial assistance to college students.

Ashley said she hoped this would become a regular event for student government.

“We’re still discussing whether this should become an annual or bi-annual thing,” she said. “We want to keep Congress informed about what matters most to students. However, there is no point in telling the same people the same stuff every year.”

U.S. Congress was not in session on the Monday the group was on Capitol Hill, so the student representatives met with staffers and policymakers instead of congressmen and women.

Still, representatives said they were busy and had eight meetings Monday.

“We are speaking with the people who directly advise congressmen and women,” Nunnery said. “Talking to the high-level staffers will ultimately be in our favor, as they are policymakers who have input in the legislation. They are the best people to talk to about issues in North Carolina education.”

Powell said he would support similar trips in years to come.

“Advocacy for student issues is a priority for any student government, but particularly the president,” he said. “Future employability is a huge concern for UNC students, and it relies on the investments that the government put into education, both on a federal and state level.”

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.