The Vote Yes Referenda Campaign encouraged students to “vote yes” on the Student Constitution Referendum on Friday.
The vote was to approve the changes to the Student Constitution that arose from the division of the UNC Student Government into two governing bodies: the Undergraduate Student Government and the Graduate and Professional Student Federation.
The Vote Yes Referenda Campaign outlines the goals of the referendum on the website, including a section that says a vote yes will contribute to the creation of a more inclusive and representative system of both graduate and undergraduate student needs.
The referendum vote was for proposed changes to chapters one and three of the constitution. Undergraduate students only voted on chapter one and graduate and professional students voted on chapters one and three.
One of the major proposed changes to chapter one is the position of student body president being split into two positions: the president of the Undergraduate Student Government and the president of the GPSF.
Madelyn Percy, president of GPSF, explained that one of the big ways that the undergraduates and the graduate and professional students work together is through the Joint Governance Council.
“Having the Joint Governance Chair also serving as one of the presidents of the student governments becomes a conflict of interest,” she said. “We changed it so that the chair of the Joint Governance Council is a separate person.”
Focusing on the graduate and professional portion of the constitution, chapter three essentially lays the foundations for how the GPSF functions.
“Amongst graduate and professional students, I think the general consensus is that we’re really excited to have a platform of stability on which we can really start building,” Percy said.
Percy said the split of the Student Government into the two entities was beneficial for the entire student body.
“When it comes down to it, it’s really powerful to have two separate advocates for students. I don’t think that I would be a good advocate for undergraduate student concerns,” she said. “And in turn, undergraduate students haven’t been graduate students yet. There’s just very different needs between the two populations.”
Percy said those who expressed resistance to the referendum were most likely the same ones who were resistant to the split of the Student Government.
“There were a couple of people who were uncomfortable,” she said. “I think the source of their discomfort wasn’t the changes that were just voted on, but back from the split.”
Senior Jacob Blount, secretary of the Undergraduate Executive Branch, said the referendum will be a major aid to the separate efforts within both of the governments, while simultaneously boosting their ability to work together.
“The purpose of the referendum was to streamline the work that the two UNC student governments are doing,” Blount said. “We are working through the kinks, trying to make it the most productive piece of legislation possible.”
Blount said the referendum will have a large impact on student governance and UNC as a whole.
“It’s a turning point of the future of the UNC student government,” Blount said. “This is an integral point of being at Carolina.”
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