“It’s been really hard this semester, sort of going through this process,” said Priyesh Krishnan, a fifth-year graduate student in economics and the finance committee chairperson for Student Congress.
“I fundamentally disagree with the idea of separation and I don’t think it’s good for graduate students and I don’t think it’s good for undergraduate students.”
Opponents of the separation plan, like Krishnan, say it would sever communication between the two governing bodies.
“That’s why I think separation is a bad idea, because you’re taking so many voices in different places and kind of separating them,” Krishnan said. “We need to communicate for everything on all stages.”
Despite not agreeing with the separation plan, Krishnan said he would continue to work with GPSF
“We sat down with them and went through it because in the end, if students choose that, we still want the best version of it possible,” he said. “We’re students first and we all share this University.”
John Anagnost, a city and regional planning master’s student and chairperson of the rules and judiciary committee, said GPSF’s separation plan would not benefit graduate students or undergraduate students, but other options exist.
“Two members of Student Congress have introduced two alternative constitutions that they hope will be passed through full congress and be put on the same ballot,” he said.
A plan proposed by Speaker of Student Congress David Joyner meets all but one of GPSF’s demands, Anagnost said. Due to technological issues, GPSF President Dylan Russell was not able to respond to The Daily Tar Heel's interview requests.
Anagnost said Joyner’s plan would allow GPSF to independently appoint candidates to committees that pertain to GPSF; allow GPSF to introduce its own fees; allow GPSF to propose constitutional amendment referenda; and restructure the wording in the current constitution to make it more clear that GPSF has oversight over its own finances.
While Joyner’s cooperation plan grants GPSF more autonomy, it denies separation.
“The cooperation plan does not turn GPSF into a governing body — it remains an independent organization that is subordinate to Student Congress,” Anagnost said. “The cooperation plan reforms the current structure of student government; the separation plan completely demolishes the current structure of student government.”
Anagnost said the disagreement revolves around whether or not student government needs restructuring in order to appease GPSF.
“Is it worth it to totally take apart student government to achieve that single goal? Because all GPSF’s other goals are achieved through that cooperation plan,” Anagnost said.
Anagnost and Krishnan both said a plan involving compromise would be more beneficial for graduate and professional students and undergraduate students. Student Congress, Anagnost said, has remained open to compromise.
“Congress is conceding major things to GPSF because Congress sees their concerns as legitimate and wants to collaborate,” Anagnost said.
“I definitely support the cooperation plan. I think it would accomplish what needs to be accomplished, it could be done it a way that is not terribly disruptive and it reflects a strong desire for collaboration and cooperation by Student Congress.”
Samantha Yarborough, a third-year law student and the ethics committee chairperson, said she also favors the cooperation plan. She said GPSF’s proposed separation would prevent further communication with student government.
“That’s what the split plan is going to do,” Yarborough said. “It’s going to take the student body and fracture it.”
Despite the disagreement, she said she still believes student government and GPSF can come to a consensus.
“One of our greatest strengths is our ability to work together to come up with solution, and this time it didn’t particularly work out, but usually it does,” she said.