ASG struggles to conduct meeting at UNCP
By Susan Walley
The UNC Association of Student Governments (ASG) met Oct. 5 and 6 at UNCP to discuss concerns such as passing a budget, having student representation on the UNC Board of Governors and obtaining quorum.
The ASG Budget
ASG’s budget is allotted at $190,000, coming from a $1 fee paid by each student of the UNC system. The year’s proposed budget is to be passed at the first regular meeting of the ASG, which took place Sept. 7 and 8. However, the association lacked the necessary quorum to take action on the budget.
After arriving at Pembroke on the Oct. 5, Keri Brockett, ECU’s SGA President and Chair of ASG’s Council of Student Body Presidents, spoke to the delegates in the UC Lounge shortly before 9 p.m.
Brockett explained the importance of approving the budget at this meeting, stating that UNC general administration will not let the association continue to spend money if it isn’t done.
The budget provides for the salaries of student officers as well as a full time office manager and all overhead costs of running an office in Raleigh.
It also provides a total of $41,900 for the costs of travel, meetings and training. Having administration freeze their funding would render the ASG nearly useless, not even having the funding to conduct conference calls.
Without having the necessary quorum to conduct business, the 9 p.m. meeting was cancelled in order to attend the Homecoming step show, with ASG and UNCP’s SGA splitting the ticket costs for the association.
The Council of Student Body Presidents obtained quorum the following morning and convened shortly after 10 a.m.
Issues of concern discussed within the budget revolved around proposed allocations for membership fees and events sponsored by USSA, a national student advocacy group, totaling $20,500.
These budget items were frozen by the Council to allow for the budget to be approved minus these allocations, which need further review.
With discussion over, Bobby Mills, SGA President of N.C. State moved for the Council to approve the budget. Present in the room at the time were only eight presidents, one short of quorum.
Absent from the room at the time of the vote was UNCP’s President Dwight Humphrey. He was asked to return to the meeting by other presidents and voted in affirmation, allowing the Council to approve the budget.
Although the budget was approved by the Council, all final action would rest with the General Assembly, which again found itself without quorum and unable to approve the budget.
Brockett explained, however, that this does not mean the ASG will have its funding frozen.
“We still have recommendations to present on the budget which we can present to the General Assembly,” she explained.
ASG President Cole Jones explained that the measures they were able to take regarding the budget were enough for the moment. He stated that the association’s liaison to general administration, Kemal Atkins, has given the association permission to move forward with approving the budget.
The UNC Board of Governors (BOG) is the policy making body of the UNC system, of which the president of ASG is required to be a non-voting member.
ASG President Cole Jones has not yet been sworn in to this position. The BOG will hold its next meeting Oct. 10.
The Council met in closed session for over an hour on Oct. 6 to discuss Jones and passed a recommendation 9 to 1 concerning BOG representation.
This recommendation stated that Jones must be sworn into his seat on the BOG on Oct. 10, and either himself or a designee must be present at that meeting.
President Jones agreed to this recommendation.
Having agreed, if Jones fails to be sworn into his position or fails to have a student present at the meeting, he must submit his resignation or face removal.
Jones already planned a possible exit strategy, if he is still unable to take his position.
The Council’s recommendation, he said, is a part of that strategy.
“I am very concerned about the state of the association with or without me,” he said, assuring that “a student will definitely be at the Board meeting, no ifs, ands or buts.”
Jones has stated his intent to resign if he is unable to take his position on the BOG in both emails and video conferences with the Council.
The Council also discussed the legality of such resignations, deciding that only written and signed resignations can be accepted.
Jones stated that he is still discussing legal issues of resignation with his advisors, but if resignation is the course he chooses, it will come no later than the morning of Oct. 10.
“Delegate fragile” institution
Unable to conduct business the night of Oct. 5 without the necessary quorum, ASG delegates and officers met informally, hearing from Council Chair Brockett and ASG President Jones.
With this being both the second meeting of the year and the second time of the year the association has found itself lacking quorum, the association is in a “delegate fragile state,” according to Jones.
He assured the delegates that they would find a way to make things happen without having quorum if they had to.
The Council of Student Body Presidents was scheduled to meet the night of the Oct. 5 at 9 p.m., requiring nine presidents to conduct business.
Initially, this was possible, but delegation from UNCW left Pembroke following the step show, leaving only seven presidents.
Humphrey suggested having an ASG officer from Winston-Salem State University resign his position for the day in order to serve as a proxy for the WSSU President.
After delegates were dismissed from the room, Jones asked that all presidents call whomever they could not in attendance and ask for them to be present in the morning.
Yet, the only additional Council member the following morning was a delegate from UNCW left behind to serve as proxy.
The problem was solved by Keri Brockett, who asked that Justin Ritchie, SGA president of UNCC entrust her sister who is a student there with serving as proxy. The start of the morning’s meeting was delayed by over an hour to wait for her arrival, among others. Ultimately, however, the Council was able to conduct business.
T. Greg Doucette, Student Senate President at N.C. State, stated his dissatisfaction with the number of proxies in attendance at the Council meeting.
At least three were present, from UNCC, UNCW, and UNCCH.
Yet, when it came time for the General Assembly to convene that afternoon, quorum became a problem once again.
Not only had three members of the UNCW delegation left the previous night, but the delegation from NC Central left early due to their homecoming.
The assembly requires 35 delegates be present to conduct business and had only 29 still in attendance.
With the previous meeting of ASG in September ending abruptly in a similar fashion once quorum was lost, it’s become a problem this year for ASG.
Speaking informally to the group on Oct. 5, Brockett stated, “We honestly didn’t do very much at the last meeting.
“It’s our duty and obligation to come together as an association” she said. “If we come together as one voice, we will be heard by General Administration and the BOG and that isn’t happening,” she continued.
Brockett explained that the association had to show improvement by January, with the BOG scheduling their February meeting to discuss whether the association should continue to receive funding.
The ASG has only two meetings left to show the BOG that they have progressed.