State-wide student gov’t leaders’ hands are tied

The officers of the UNC System’s state-wide student government, the UNC Association of Student Governments (UNCASG), and all 16 student body presidents from each UNC campus are meeting this weekend at NC State.

As many of you may recall, I was a part of a push by the UNCG delegation to the Association to amend its equal opportunity clause to include sexual orientation, gender-identity and expression, gender and socioeconomic status. That motion ultimately failed in April, with only 6 delgates out of approximately 60 voting for in favor (see archive of related posts).

During the last meeting of the 2005-2006 school year, the issue was postponed until the beginning of the 2006-2007 school year. With that final decision, the officers and leaders of UNCASG have their hands all but tied.

The group’s agenda last night included discusssion of some constitutional issues, but they could not discuss the equal opportunity clause. I understand that they can’t do much.

Today’s agenda includes meetings by the Council of Student Body Presidents, a group comprised of all 16 student government presidents from each UNC campus. Dates for UNCASG General Assembly meetings should be set, as well as having other top policy decisions made.

I am hopeful and optimistic about the equal opportunity clause’s expansion. Both the new UNCASG President Derek Pantiel (NCCU) and the Senior Vice President Dan Fischer (UNCG) both pledged their support of the measure in April. It is a promise I will hold them to.

At the same time as being hopeful, however, I must be realistic. Having the support of the leadership of UNCASG is not enough. In April, the equal opportunity clause expansion had support from both President Zach Wynne and Senior Vice President Laura DeCastro, as well as other top leaders.

The ultimate failure in the motion was based simply in not having enough support in the UNCASG General Assembly. Dialogue, networking and discussion is definitely something which is called for if this change in the equal opportunity clause is ever going to happen.

One thing that might also be helpful is showing the state-wide leaders and teh UNCASG General Assembly the support this measure would have from the students. I am weighing putting together a petition drive and circulating it around the UNC System’s various LGBT student groups and other allies. We’ll see what the future holds.

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