The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday May 7th

Student Congress sets goals, talks GPSF split

Members of Student Congress discussed the proposed split between the Graduate and Professional Student Federation and undergraduate student government at its semester planning meeting on Saturday. 

“This is us losing authority,” Student Congress Speaker David Joyner said. 

STORY SO FAR

Agitation in GPSF became public when the president and secretary resigned Nov. 12.

On Nov. 23, GPSF leaders sent UNC administrators a letter asking for autonomy.

In December, GPSF elected a new president, Dylan Russell.

On Jan. 12, GPSF discussed two alternatives for how to move forward.

Student Congress met in a six-hour open session to set goals for the upcoming semester. 

The group discussed GPSF as part of a policy information session about representation and the student constitution. Other information sessions covered student government finances and campus climate. 

“My worry with a split government is that undergraduates and graduates wouldn’t be interacting much at all,” said Cole Simons, chairperson of the Oversight and Advocacy Committee. 

Simons questioned what would happen to student representation on the Board of Trustees if there were separate graduate and undergraduate student governments. Currently, the student body president sits on the Board of Trustees. 

“We don’t need to be diminishing that voice any more,” Simons said.

Joyner said more meetings will be held to discuss the proposed GPSF split before the policy change would be brought to a full student body vote.

Representative Sarah Hudak said it is important for students to understand the benefits of either option. 

“I really want the students to be informed because at the end of the day, it’s not (Student Congress’s) vote,” Hudak said.

In other portions of the meeting, Student Congress members wrote a vision statement for the semester and discussed how to reach the student body more effectively. 

“When we leave office in 80 days, which I promise will fly by, what are three things that we can use to say if we were successful?” Joyner asked.

Ethics Committee Chairperson Samantha Yarborough said Student Congress members should go above and beyond what is required of them to better engage constituents. 

“I think we need a holistic image of what congress is, and having the vision statement is really going to help with that,” Yarborough said.

Dale Bass, speaker pro-tempore of Student Congress, told members to think about goals for their respective districts for the semester. 

“It’s really important to advocate for issues that really hit home for you,” Bass said.

Members had a shared goal to have students run from every district. Student Congress has struggled with vacancy issues for several semesters.

“I think that congress should become even more representative,” said Priyesh Krishnan, Finance committee chairperson. 

Hudak said it is important for members to hold themselves accountable.

“I want to make sure that our resolutions do not stop on paper,” Hudak said. “We need to be measuring progress.”

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