The debate, held by the Out-of-State Student Association, focused on issues that affect the 18 percent of UNC students who come from out of state.
After the debate, the association’s political chairperson Justin Stidham said they would endorse candidate Wilson Sink.
“We feel that his ideas are a lot more concrete and that every sort of hypothetical came with a concrete policy idea on things that we had strongly felt about and things we’d never considered before,” Stidham said.
Sink and candidate John Taylor both come from North Carolina, while candidate Bradley Opere is from Kenya.
“My home is literally an almost 22-hour flight away, and I haven’t been home for almost the last two years,” Opere said.
The candidates were asked how their administrations could benefit out-of-state students. Opere said he wanted to implement programs to help out-of-state students open new bank accounts and socialize to ease the transition into the UNC community.
Taylor said focusing on students’ adjustments to UNC is important.
Sink said his administration will advocate for raising Residence Hall Association fees in order to improve residence halls.
“Recently RHA has not had an increase to keep pace with inflation in the past 30 years roughly,” Sink said. “That’s detrimental to out-of-state students especially because residence halls are literally their home.”
Sink he plans to increase Counseling and Psychological Services resources so students can have access to private counseling on campus.
Making UNC home
“I want to help connect out-of-state students with families here in Chapel Hill so you feel like you have a place to go home to on the weekends or over breaks,” Taylor said.
He offered his house as a home to students and said he would love to welcome students into it.
Opere said student government should help out-of-state students find affordable storage for belongings between semesters. He said he wants to increase peer-to-peer training to improve mental health and sexual assault awareness.
“If you’re an out-of-state, out-of-country student who doesn’t have parents looking out for you, you actually have your roommate,” Opere said.
Sink said he wants to build on UNC’s current programs by expanding Tar Heel Bikes and providing RHA with more resources.
Budgets and SAFO
All three candidates said getting money for student groups through the Student Activities Fund Office is a problem because groups are required to pay high fees.
All three said it is important to look into other options for banking, such as partnering with Wells Fargo. Sink said UNC should look at other schools’ models for student organizations’ banking.
“The contract for SAFO runs out in 2017,” Sink said. “It’s important to recognize that our administrations, whoever is elected, will be in charge of this process and this investigation for change.”