Student Body President candidates Ryan Collins and Reeves Moseley debated each other on Monday, the night before the spring general elections. The debate is required in the Joint Student Code. The candidates debated civic engagement, graduate student needs, diversity and police conduct, among other topics.
How will you affect what happens in Raleigh?
The moderator asked how the candidates planned to influence change on matters that are not based on campus, but in Raleigh.
Moseley answered that since his tenure would be in an election year, the student body needs to demand action through the polls. He said UNC is a super precinct and needs to take advantage of an on-site voting station. He also encouraged voter registration through orientation leaders and resident advisors.
The Orange County Board of Elections created a precinct that encompasses UNC, a change from the three on campus. The new voting location will be at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center.
“We don’t have to wait for an election year to make these types of decisions,” Collins said in response.
Collins emphasized that undergraduate and graduate students should work together and lobby in the legislature.
Issues affecting graduate students
Reeves said pay disparities between teaching assistants in different departments should be acknowledged.
A Graduate and Professional Student Federation analysis from 2014 showed that the humanities and social science departments did have lower stipends, but many of the STEM stipends had a master’s program stipend. In 2019-20, the minimum stipend for terminal masters’ programs was $5,700 a semester and $7,850 a semester for doctoral programs.
Collins said graduate students need adequate transportation as well as affordable housing. As the cost of housing rises, he said, graduate students face difficulty finding an affordable place to live.
A DTH article published last November found that luxury apartments continued to rise across Chapel Hill. Some were built after vacating residents, according to the article.
Collins said he would work with municipalities to find a solution.
After a 2018 referendum, Chapel Hill agreed to use a $10 million bond to create affordable housing in the area.
UNC coal plant
Moderators asked the candidates about action that would be taken toward a UNC-operated coal plant, which is facing a lawsuit claiming it poses health risks to the community and is a source of unmanaged pollution.
“UNC thinks about money before people,” Collins said.
Collins supported lobbying at the Board of Governors and state level, as well as plans in place to have an environmentally-conscious replacement.
“Until we get people to stop working clearly on the monetary aspect, we’re going to continue to see it get brushed aside,” Collins said.
Moseley emphasized that students feel ignored, especially regarding the coal plant. He wants to lobby through the State & External Affairs task force and make the University release a comprehensive Three Zeros plan.
Diversity on campus
A 2017 DTH article found that UNC’s minority enrollment percentages do not match the state’s demographic and fall behind major schools in the UNC System.
Moseley wants to create a sub-committee to research demographics across UNC and other UNC system schools, and to use the data to push for more retention and enrollment.
“This University is sending a message that they don’t care about (minority students),” Collins said.
Collins also said the University cared more about preserving its reputation and a legislature that does not reflect the demographics of North Carolina.
“I want to raise up organizations like BSM and the Latinx Center,” Collins said.
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