Students must be current residents of their districts in order to represent them in Student Congress. Joyner said this leads to other problems, as returning students often don’t receive their first-choice residence halls on South Campus, which are mostly reserved for first-years.
Often, students will get elected for a specific district in the spring, hoping to live there in the fall and represent the district. But many students change housing in the fall and have to resign, leaving open seats, said Grayson Berger, president of the Board of Elections.
“Districts have as much as seven open seats,” Berger said.
Joyner said the empty seats in mid-campus, graduate and post-graduate districts are a result of uncertain plans.
“People don’t get their first housing request or people go abroad,” Joyner said. “So if people go abroad they have to resign their seats because they’re not here on campus to fulfill their obligations.”
Simons said Student Congress recently hosted about 150 students at an open house to inform and fill vacancies in the fall election on October 30.
“We’ll be working with (the Residence Hall Association) this year to make sure we’re in residence halls talking to them, making sure they know those positions are open,” Simons said.
Joyner said he is working with Taylor Bates, president of the Residence Hall Association, along with Community Government in an effort to reach out and bridge the gap in the districts that have vacancies.
Student Congress meets every other Tuesday.
“All our meetings are open to the public,” Joyner said. “As a speaker it is my prerogative to allow them to give input although they can’t vote, so we still try and get feedback from them.”
Simons said he is also working on a survey that will be emailed to the UNC student body focusing primarily on how students interact with professors, teaching assistants and fellow students to make up for the vacancies.
“It’s much more specific, so we can build student opinions to make sure we’re focusing on the right areas,” Simons said.