The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday August 13th

Letter: ​Students have the right to self-govern


I thank The Daily Tar Heel editorial board for its critique of student government leaders, though I would argue that our primary mistake was failing to take Vice Chancellor Crisp’s intervention entirely seriously. We were very surprised that he felt justified in taking unilateral action, and we were certain that he did not have the authority to do so. That said, our lack of public response has certainly served to reinforce the public perception that student government reports to the University administration. Let me take this opportunity to say something which should be uncontroversial. A split in student governance has not already happened, and it categorically will not happen unless the student body votes in favor of it. Suggestions to the contrary, as your editorial suggests, are worth less than the paper they’re written on. Student government serves the student body and the student body alone.

We are elected by the student body, we are answerable only to the student body and we are sworn to uphold a student constitution which has been amended only with the explicit approval of the student body since its adoption in 1946, save perhaps for a single instance in 1971 when a Chancellor sought to divide and thereby weaken a troublingly powerful student government (I’ll have to consult the history books). We acknowledge that some of student government’s authority is delegated. Examples include our ability to allocate funds to student organizations and to sit on various administrative committees. The terms of these delegations are mutually agreed upon, long-established and clearly expressed in the Student Code.

We do our utmost to carry out these responsibilities in a thoughtful and responsible manner. We resent attempts to erode the University’s commitment to student self-governance, and we maintain that the student body’s right to govern itself is both just and inalienable.

Harry Edwards

Student body treasurer

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