Four non-Congress members attended the meeting, a higher turnout than Speaker David Joyner expected.
“We generally have high turnout during the spring open house because that is when student body elections are, and that’s when the main Congress elections are,” he said.
“I think that tonight’s turnout was reflective of students interested in filling vacancies. We saw a lot of underclassmen coming out — we saw a lot of first-years and sophomores. Those have been the people contacting me offline about potentially filling those seats.”
Joyner said having vacant seats is not uncommon, especially among graduate and professional students, but vacant seats among undergraduate students are rare.
“As far as undergraduates go, vacancies are a lot more rare, but we’ve had a lot of turnover this year with people going abroad,” he said.
“We’ve had a few people resign their Congress seats so they can get positions in other areas of government ... And I think the largest problem we had was people who didn’t have their housing confirmed when they decided to run, so they ran for election and had to move out of their district and therefore had to decline.”
In addition to sharing information about applying for Student Congress, the forum opened the floor to any concerns.
Members discussed issues like the possible privatization of UNC Student Stores, underage drinking and drunk driving and students moving off-campus.
Jack Amoroso, a first-year member of Speakers at Carolina, said he has seen more people looking into off-campus housing.
“I’ve been shocked just from being here for two months how many of my peers and friends have decided after living here two months they want to move off-campus next year and next semester,” he said. “I think it’s shocking that after only two months, you can make that decision.”
Student Congress Representative Samantha Yarborough said she witnessed the shift from on-campus to off-campus housing.
“I went to Carolina for undergrad, so I’ve been here for a long time — I lived on campus all four years of undergrad and when I was a junior that wasn’t weird,” she said.
“There were plenty other juniors living in my hall, but this was also before the huge boom of apartment complexes. I’ve seen, personally, a big shift to moving off-campus even in the past few years.”
Amoroso said he will not apply for one of the vacant seats, but he came to the forum because he was interested in learning more about Student Congress.
“This is one of the best forums to get to know what’s going on, on campus,” he said.
“You really don’t hear about it unless you find out and research, so this is a great way to figure out what’s been going around.”