How ASG Lied to You

So, you remember how about two months ago, during the referendum on ASG, everyone on the pro-side was arguing something to the effect of, “Just give us some time and, we’ll fix everything.” Turns out that wasn’t really true. Since that referendum, the organization has failed to achieve quorum for two of its meetings and just this past weekend decided to increase the stipends for all of its officers by 10%. Now, it’s completely understandable why such a massive increase is necessary. After the organization’s abysmal job representing student interests to the Board of Governors this year and the subsequent double-digit tuition hikes, it’s completely understandable why the officers feel they need a raise. They’re going to need that extra cash to help offset the costs of higher tuition next year. ASG President Atul Bhula claimed that such a ridiculous increase was necessary because he’s lost money “doing ASG.” While we’re all still trying to figure what exactly he was doing last year besides attempting to bully constituent organizations into compliance, it’s worth noting that we’ve all lost money doing ASG, four dollars to be exact. Given its failure to have any effect on this year’s tuition hikes, given its failure to connect with and understand students’ needs, and given its failure to achieve anything meaningful over the last several years, why does ASG think it deserves a raise? This, more than anything else, demonstrates the level of corruption that pervades the organization.

ASG President, Atul Bhula

And the organization appears to have lost any interest in perusing its series of “reforms.” As one of his parting acts of office,  Bhula urged the assembled delegates to kill both of the bills currently pending before the organization that would make (very modest) reforms to how ASG operates. Any hope that the organization might be able to reform itself so that it actually serves students rather than its officers is now effectively dead. We ought to end our relationship with this organization rather than continuing to put up with its abuses.

I think UNC SBP Will Leimenstoll said it best, “I don’t know how I can go back in good conscience to Chapel Hill and tell people who barely voted to stay in this organization that we’re going to increase stipends and decrease student advocacy.”

10 thoughts on “How ASG Lied to You

  1. Trilby Reply

    I never heard the pro-ASG argument mentioned by the author (everything will be magically fixed). It’s almost as if he picked the weakest argument, or simply made up a straw man, to make his argument more impressive. If he could take on the substantial arguments made by the those against backing out of ASG for two months, he might demonstrate some talent for persuasive writing!

    • mseelingerjr Reply

      If you check out the former pro-ASG campaign’s Facebook page (, you’ll note that the general thrust of the argument is that we should continue to use ASG as the primary source of our lobbying efforts because leadership, not the structure of the organization, is the real problem. They also claim that, with time, they’ll get around to “rebuilding” ASG. Recent events, noted in the above post, indicate that at best this claim was disingenuous, and at worst, an outright lie.

      • Trilby

        Do you see how you described the "Vote Yes" position in your article "give us time, we'll fix everything" is very different from your follow up "the ASG leadership is the problem and they'll get around to rebuilding it". And even that seems to distort what is said on the page you lined ("let's rebuild ASG together").

        I think the more difficult arguments for the "Vote No" group were "you have no alternative lobbying vehicle, this undermines lobbying efforts due to the poor timing of this referendum and wouldn't have any effect but symbolically withdrawing UNC for a short time, the student referendum has no authority to get rid of the fee and will simply waste the $1 fee even more than ever when UNC abdicates unilaterally ETC". You ignored all of those and attacked a strawman, and I'm just saying a more persuasive article wouldn't have done that.

      • mseelingerjr

        I’m sorry if my use of “it” was a little vague. “It” refers to ASG not its leadership. That being said, I think that my summation of the other side’s arguments is fair.

        This particular post was not designed to deal with the entire pro/anti-ASG debate. Rather, it was meant to highlight one of the most controversial aspects of the organization, i.e. stipends. I was seeking to demonstrate how the organization is actually regressing rather than enacting any positive reform in this area. I then combined that with ASG’s refusal to consider any of the (very modest) reforms currently before it to argue that the pro- side’s claims that they would fix the organization if we didn’t leave it were simply not true. The organization has made no serious effort to fix itself and has actually demonstrated that things are getting much worse and not any better. I’m not sure how any of that qualifies as “attacking a strawman.” That would imply that something I said wasn’t actually true.

  2. Trilby Reply

    Really? You think your description “just give us some time, and we’ll fix everything” is a fair summation of “let’s rebuild ASG together”? If they said somewhere else they’d fix everything in ASG, I’d still like to see a cite to it. If not, then I’ve gotten a much better idea of what to expect when you “fairly summarize” an opponents viewpoint in one of your articles.

    The pro-ASG side was saying they would try to improve ASG, but they couldn’t even try to do it if UNC unilaterally abdicated from the group. Again, if you see anywhere that the pro-ASG side made a guarantee for “fixing everything” or even that ASG would never get worse, please post a cite.

    • mseelingerjr Reply

      I would think that an attempt to rebuild the organization would also involve an effort to fix all of the problems with it, unless we’re operating under a different definition of the word, “rebuild.” Also, if a promise to rebuild the organization doesn’t even involve a promise to not let things get any worse, that’s a pretty empty promise. Of course, that’s kind of my point, or maybe the usage of “rebuild” has changed and, I’ve somehow missed it.

  3. Trilby Reply

    What’s at issue it not the word “rebuild”, it’s that you described them as saying “we will definitely fix everything” when they said “let’s stay in and try to fix things”. There is an enormous difference between those two statements. They weren’t guaranteeing an eradication of all problems, they were saying that staying in was the only viable chance of making things better. If you asked them “Hey, will we definitely fix everything wrong with ASG (and will there be zero chance of any setbacks?)”- there is no evidence they would have said yes (unless you have some new evidence?). I think distorting a group’s position to make yours appear stronger is unhelpful for any dialogue on an issue and ultimately undermines your credibility. Unless what you said was #notintendedtobeafactualstatement.

    • mseelingerjr Reply

      See, now you’re putting words in my mouth. I never said that they would “definitely fix everything” or that they would never encounter any setbacks. They promised to fix things, which to date, they have demonstrated they lack both the will and ability to do.

      • Trilby

        I agree, I shouldn’t have put that in quotes, it wasn’t what you said.

        I think our disagreement remains. You think they promised to fix things, which they haven’t. I think they promised they would try to fix things, which they are.

  4. David Reply

    Really? You think your description just give us some time, and we’ll fix evrehtying is a fair summation of let’s rebuild ASG together ? If they said somewhere else they’d fix evrehtying in ASG, I’d still like to see a cite to it. If not, then I’ve gotten a much better idea of what to expect when you fairly summarize an opponents viewpoint in one of your articles.The pro-ASG side was saying they would try to improve ASG, but they couldn’t even try to do it if UNC unilaterally abdicated from the group. Again, if you see anywhere that the pro-ASG side made a guarantee for fixing evrehtying or even that ASG would never get worse, please post a cite.

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