Since UNC's official move to remote instruction on March 23, actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have impacted almost every aspect of campus life — and student government is no exception.
Student Body President Ashton Martin said student government has been mostly been put on hold by the campus moving to remote classes and reduced operations.
“We had to suspend most of our operations because the executive branch operates on a committee sort of structure, so committees can't meet,” Martin said. “And it's kind of hard to get things done when all the teachers and administrators are so focused on the virus and moving online.”
The Undergraduate Senate, the student government's legislative branch, had to adapt to members working remotely, Martin said. However, its work is still being halted by the coronavirus and reduced campus operations.
“They had their first online meeting last night, so that's operating, but most of what they do is funding student organizations, which of course aren't operating anymore, so they can't have funding," Martin said. "So they're sort of in a holding pattern as well, where they’re trying to figure out how to respond."
Martin said the most tangible thing the student government has done during the crisis has been declaring a state of emergency.
That declaration helped student officers transfer funds to help those affected by the pandemic and its disruption, Undergraduate Treasurer Carter Vilim said.
“The big takeaway is that we're able to spend down some of the reserve balance that the Student Safety and Security Committee has,” Vilim said. “What we've decided to do is transfer, effective as of March 23, $25,000 from that reserve balance to the Carolina Student Impact Fund as a way to support the administration's response to helping out students who are suffering from COVID-19 related financial hardships.”
The student impact fund is being used to help students who are experiencing unexpected financial hardships due to COVID-19.