ASG does not vote on legislation to support DOJ lawsuit

Stephanie Sansoucy

The UNC system Association of Student Governments met Saturday at UNC-Chapel Hill where legislation that would support the Department of Justice in suing the state of North Carolina did not come to a vote, due to a failure to suspend rules.

Appalachian State University Student Government Association President Dylan Russell, along with the student body presidents of UNC-CH and North Carolina State University, proposed the legislation.

A two-thirds vote is required in order to suspend the rules that would require the legislation to be read at two separate meetings before being voted on. However, when ASG voted, the outcome was an 18-14 vote against the suspension of the rules.

“This resolution was the only thing up for vote at this meeting,” Russell said. “We performed a huge disservice to our constituents when we didn’t suspend the rules.”

On Sept. 30, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against North Carolina for recent voting laws, one being the change in voter ID laws.

The legislation, put in last-minute due to the date of the suit, was not voted on, though it received a favorable vote in committee from the Council of Student Body Presidents, Russell said.

“We decided that it was imperative that [ASG] take a stance on the issues that the student body faces,” Russell said. “We thought that it was time-sensitive and that it would behoove the organization to stand and ride on the backs of how much press this issue is already receiving.”

ASG President Robert Nunnery said the legislation did not pass because according to ASG’s rules, legislation must be read aloud at two meetings before it is debated and voted on. There was only one meeting this past weekend.

Saturday’s meeting was changed from the traditional two meetings, one on Friday and one on Saturday, to one meeting.

Nunnery said that this was due to the change in location of the meeting from UNC Charlotte to UNC-CH and the high cost of hotel rates.

“Hotels in Chapel Hill were around $180 a night,” Nunnery said. “In order to cut expenses, myself, the vice president of [ASG] and the chief financial officer decided to get rid of the Friday meeting.”

Hotel rooms were rented for delegates from schools located more than two and a half hours away, while closer schools drove to UNC-CH for the day, Nunnery said.

However, the legislation is not gone forever.

“The resolution will come up for an official second reading in November,” Nunnery said. “So it’s not dead, it just did not come up to a second reading.”

Nunnery said that some schools that voted against suspending the rules wanted more time to look at the legislation, while some just disagreed.

“Some concern was that we needed to pass the legislation [that day] because the suit was filed [Sept. 30],” Nunnery said. “Others said the lawsuit would take six months to a year and we were fine to wait, no reasons to rush.”

Russell said that in the past, the rules have been suspended and that he is disappointed that was not the case Saturday because he believes the message of the legislation would have had more of an impact if passed Saturday as opposed to potentially in November.

Director of State and External Affairs for UNC-CH’s student government Shelby Hudspeth was at the meeting.

“As far as the weekend goes as a whole, I think it is unfortunate that the schools that voted against suspending the rules would not even consider a discussion of the bill,” Hudspeth said.

Hudspeth said ASG owed students time spent on discussion that suspending the rules would have allowed.

“While there was some positive and helpful discussions in the committee, I feel the day as a whole was fruitless,” Hudspeth said.

Like Hudspeth, Russell felt nothing was accomplished at the meeting.

“I am completely dissatisfied that I can’t report positively and favorably back to Appalachian,” Russell said. “It is infuriating because I see the potential of this organization, and I firmly believe that now, more so than ever, we need to take a stance and stand together.”

Nunnery said that the meeting was planned to address an upcoming visit to Washington, D.C., where the UNC system student body presidents would advocate changes to the FAFSA form.

However, that was stopped short by the government shutdown furloughing all employees in the Department of Education, stopping communication between ASG and the department.

“The meeting could have been more productive,” Nunnery said. “However, there [were] several items accomplished, several items that we have been working on.”

Nunnery said that while nothing was finalized, progress has been made for the meeting in November as well as next semester.

“I know moving forward the Association of Student Governments will continue to work for students,” Nunnery said.