Student Senate’s meeting on Oct. 4 included a debate between Drew Heiderscheidt (full disclosure: Drew Heiderscheidt is also the Opinion Editor for The Mirror) and Mallory Gibson, a junior music business major, about the housing overflow issue.

According to Heiderscheidt, many students at UNC have been packed into the lounges in residence halls with little privacy, and without a refund. These students aren’t allowed to leave or live off campus, even if they have other options.

“If this continues, particularly in regards to students being denied the ability to leave, it will be a total sham. Just because something is lawful, that doesn’t mean it’s not awful, and if we’re truly representatives of the student body, we need to discuss this. Otherwise we’re nothing better than a bunch of cowards and sycophants, and we’re failing to do the most important part of our jobs: representing our student population,” Heiderscheidt said.

Heiderscheidt proposed that Student Senate explore the options to discuss the housing issue with UNC administration, as well as “opening channels” with the Board of Trustees.

In response to Heiderscheidt’s proposal, Gibson explained how every student that was placed in overflow, received a letter in April explaining the living situation. These students have the same square footage as they would in a regular dorm, the only difference is that these students don’t get a bathroom in Harrison, or a vanity in Wilson and Wiebking.

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“It feels awkward for Senate to do something about housing, when these students aren’t complaining. It’s not our job and people expect overflow,” Gibson said. “We literally can’t touch housing.”

Student Senate tabled the housing overflow discussion until next week, during their next committee meeting.

Senate also discussed the updates for the upcoming presidential search. According to Michael Kelly, a senior with a double major in communications and sociology, the Board of Trustees is waiting to make a final decision on whether the interviews should be opened or closed until they hear the student opinion.

“It just feels like the Board of Trustees is acting like they care about the student’s opinions, when really they have already decided for it to be a closed interview,” Tammy Ortiz, Election Commissioner and Parliamentarian, said.

According to Kelly, the student representatives in the Board of Trustees do not have voting rights, they’re only representatives for the student body.

“You guys not being able to vote really shows how much they value student opinions,” David Shimokawa of the Graduate Student Association said.

Student Senate took an unofficial poll with everyone at the meeting to see where they stood on the type of interview. The results were 22-2-2, in favor of an open interview.

In other news, two representatives from Bear Pantry, Andrea Solis and Genesis Orellana, spoke to Student Senate about possible ways to promote the use of Bear Pantry.

Bear Pantry is a program offered to all UNC students that may be struggling with hunger, or  can’t afford food. Students can receive up to five non-perishable or frozen foods, as well as toiletries, twice a week, if they present their UNC ID.  

Students that don’t use all of their meals on their meal plan are able to donate three meals per semester to Bear Pantry in order to help the other students.

Bear Pantry is partnering with the Women’s Center, as well as starting food drives in order to gather more donations. They are also considering setting up donations in faculty offices, and possibly asking them to donate money from their paycheck weekly.

Senate is also finalizing the departure of Clubs and Organizations.

According to Kelly, the applications for the two job positions have been closed, and they will be hiring two students soon for the positions of Finance and Administrator Coordinator, and Training and Development Coordinator.

“Clubs and Organizations won’t really have a connection to Student Senate anymore,” Kelly said.

According to Kelly, each club can apply for $3000 per event, and $5000 per year, but the clubs and organizations don’t have to go through senate to be approved anymore.

The funding is based on a first come first serve basis, until they run out of money, Kelly said.

Student Senate will hold another meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 18, at 5:30 p.m.

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