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The Daily Tar Heel

Student Congress votes to keep district seats

This year, 18 out of the 41 seats were not filled, and there is still one open seat following Friday’s special election. The new members were inducted at Tuesday’s meeting.

“If lowering the number makes it easier to have a majority of people in Congress going forward, then halfway through the year we don’t have to have special elections,” said Peter McClelland, speaker pro tempore.

The bill, drafted by Rules and Judiciary Committee Chairman Kevan Schoonover, proposed the number of Student Congress seats be reduced from 41 seats to 33 seats for the 2015-16 congress.

The chairman of the Rules and Judiciary Committee audits the distribution of seats each year to ensure an accurate reflection of the undergraduate, graduate and professional student body, but Schoonover said changes are not usually as major as this bill.

District 6 representative David Joyner feared cutting seats would mean less representation.

“I think cutting seats is easier than adding. I don’t think we should get into that habit,” he said.

Graduate student representative Elise Rosa proposed an amendment to Schoonover’s bill to add one more seat to both districts 10 and 11. She said this would better reflect the proportion of undergraduate and graduate students.

Tyler Jacon, who lives off campus, came to Student Congress to voice his concerns of the bill. Jacon was the chairman of the Student Safety and Security Committee in the 2013-14 school year.

“I read this at 11:30 this morning,” he said. “I just don’t think students have had the opportunity to hash it out. This has not been discussed with the students it affects the most.”

Schoonover introduced the bill on Sunday. The Rules and Judiciary Committee emailed it out on its listserv, but due to a technical error, the email was not sent out until Monday.

District 1 representative Samthosh Alahari voted against the bill because he wanted more time to make an informed decision.

“I just felt that there wasn’t enough time to speak to the student body, and I haven’t had enough time to speak to my constituents,” he said.

The bill is now dead, and per the Student Code, the same exact bill cannot be brought in front of Congress again by Schoonover.

Schoonover said he will be holding a legislative hearing on Tuesday, which will provide an open public forum for students to discuss the bill.

“After tonight’s meeting, no matter how I redistrict, no one will be happy, and therefore, it will not pass with enough votes to become law,” he said. “Therefore, I’m not going to be bringing it up again unless someone is adamant about it.”

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