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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC Student Congress committee redistricts, could eliminate 8 seats

Committee Chairman Kevan Schoonover drafted a redistricting plan designed to eliminate the vacancies Student Congress faced at the beginning of the 2014 academic year.

At the beginning of the semester, 19 of 41 Student Congress positions were vacant.

Since the Student Code grants the Rules & Judiciary Committee the power to determine the districts of Student Congress, Schoonover proposed that Congress amend Title II, Chapter 1 of the code to reduce the number of graduate and undergraduate representatives by four seats each.

“The reason for the redistricting is that the current allocation we have is not accurately representing the populations that live in those districts,” Schoonover said.

The total number of Student Congress representatives is slated to decrease from 41 to 33 as a result of Schoonover’s plan.

Schoonover compared total graduate and undergraduate populations to determine a balance of 11 graduate representatives and 22 undergraduates.

In order to determine how many representatives each undergraduate district should have, Schoonover took the smallest district, District 6, Greek Housing, and assigned it one representative. Every other district’s number of representatives was calculated based on its population size relative to District 6. Similar calculations were conducted for the three graduate districts, which are divided by school instead of residency.

“I know it’s not perfect,” Schoonover said of his plan.

As there are only 33 seats in the proposed plan for Student Congress, some of the districts’ calculated seat totals — based on their populations — did not come out as whole numbers.

“Unfortunately, unless I were to increase drastically the number of representatives per district, it’d be very hard to close this gap,” Schoonover said.

Graduate student and Student Congress Rules & Judiciary Committee member Elise Rosa noted the discrepancy between the representation of undergraduate and graduate students.

“As it is, undergraduates are already vastly overrepresented in Student Congress,” she said.

Rosa, a representative of graduate student District 11, is the only representative in a district to which Student Congress has allocated four seats.

“We need to let people in professional schools know that they can get involved in Student Congress and have their voice really matter,” Schoonover said.

Speaker Ivy Hardy said the geographically based zones are created to help equal representation.

“It’s done this way to get rid of bias and also to make sure that one group isn’t being overwhelmingly represented,” Hardy said.

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