This Monday I had the opportunity to go meet my congressional representatives at an event entitled “Cookies with Congress.” While there, I was able to speak to my representatives about my concerns, and what I want to see from members of congress. While to talking to some of the other representatives, I began to notice a trend. Besides me, there was only one more student. Everyone else there was either a member of congress. As the meet-and greet went on, it was probably a good thing that no one else was there.
The Speaker of Congress, Paige Comparato, walked in front of the room and the meeting portion of the event began. Another Union Board of Directors Kim Niver, also a member of congress, joined Paige in front of the group. The topic was on how to spend the $67,000 that the Union Board of Directors has in store. The two board members began to take suggestions for how to spend the money. After a while, however, it seemed that the two members had already decided how the money was to be spent, and had decided before even coming to the meeting. They wanted the money spent on day lockers, 75 lockers to be exact, for a total of $42,000. That is $560 per locker. What are these lockers made of: gold? Despite the obvious lack of concern with how student money is spent, a majority of members did not agree with their proposed idea. Wiser heads prevailed and the plan was not agreed to.
Unfortunately, members of congress do not always do their jobs. Instead, sound policy and sound minds lose, overwhelmingly. I am speaking about the recent referendum that was put on the ballot for this year’s election, SCR-94-162 – The Coal Divestment Referendum. In an overwhelming decision, 26-4, student congress is going to allow the students to vote on whether or not UNC should keep investing in coal.
This referendum is a complete and utter sham. Why is our student congress wasting time on this issue? Consider this: as written in previous report, UNC’s Endowment is run by a private company, with a private investment strategy. Student congress, let alone any student, has absolutely no authority to tell a private company how to run its investment strategy; a strategy I might add, that has successfully added millions to our endowment in the past several years. This referendum is not even worth the paper is printed on. Some claim that public pressure might work, but from the Endowment 101 forum, the administration is clearly not bending.
I call on all students to check and see how your member of congress is voting. Do they truly care about your needs? I would also like to thank Ross Hardeman, Wes Hodgin, Peter McClelland, and Jonathan Stupak, for being the only four to vote against the Divestment referendum. Apparently, they are the only one competent enough to understand how the private market works, and what the limitations of their office are. As for the rest, vote them out.