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The Daily Tar Heel

Student Congress kicks off year with committee meetings

The Oversight and Advocacy Committee did not have any bills, but it appointed several new congressional representatives through resolutions.

Student Body Vice President Rachel Gogal introduced a resolution dealing with the Hardship Parking Committee.

She said there were a lot of problems with hardship parking in the 2014-15 school year. She hopes that appointing Ben Lykins, a graduate student who has experience in parking policy, will help things go smoothly in that committee.

Oversight and Advocacy Chairman Cole Simons said graduate student representation is important and said the committee plans to do more outreach to the graduate student demographic this year.

“I know we talked about going to (Black Student Movement and Carolina Hispanic Association) meetings to listen (to concerns),” he said.

Simons said students tend to feel more comfortable in those surroundings than in reaching out to Student Congress.

In the Finance Committee meeting, Simons introduced a bill that would stop student government from funding international travel for student groups because few members of student organizations typically go on these trips.

“The reason for (this bill) is (funding international travel) is extremely costly,” he said.

Simons’ international travel bill moved on to full congress, where it will be voted on by the whole congress at a future meeting.

Priyesh Krishnan, chairman of the Finance Committee, proposed changes and clarifications to a Title V bill, which explains the financial regulations for Student Congress.

Craig Amasya, vice chairman of the Finance Committee, proposed a new amendment allowing Student Government officers to receive additional stipend money to pay for parking permits.

The proposal spurred about 20 minutes of questions and debate among committee members who were concerned about the amendment’s efficiency.

Krishnan said he would rather increase stipend money, but Amasya said he would rather approve the additional money on a case-by-case basis.

The amendment’s divisive approval by the committee and the debate it sparked could set the tone for future problems with parking legislation in Student Congress this year.

Of the committee members who had voting privileges, only one representative opposed the bill, which allowed the parking legislation to pass.

Krishnan asked for $2,200 to pay for clerks and $15,000 to pay for office assistants for student government — which he said were estimates for the whole year.

The finance committee also reduced the amount of money for stipends for student government from about $16,000 to $8,700 because members said they wanted to give more money to students. Congress has $140,000 to allocate to student groups this semester.

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