CHAPEL HILL – The UNC Board of Trustees found that there was no “intentional bias” in Student Congress’ allocation of funds to the College Republicans.
The student group accused Student Congress earlier this month of discriminatory funding practices.
After a Student Congress presentation on the issue to the University Affairs Committee Wednesday, Alston Gardner, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, reported that despite national press which the controversy triggered, members of the Student Congress Finance Committee acted fairly.
“There was much discussion in the national press that their budgets were cut, when in reality, everybody’s budgets were cut. It appeared to us that the process was free of bias,” Gardner said. “That’s not to say that there weren’t some things that the students might have done to handle that situation better, handle their public relations better, and perhaps work through the system rather than going outside to speak to the press,” Gardner said.
The College Republicans submitted a fall budget request for $8,180 to bring two speakers to campus. The finance committee cut the request, however, and allotted only enough money to bring one speaker to Chapel Hill.
Gardner pointed out that over the past three school years, the College Republicans have received $63,209 in Student Congress funding and the Young Democrats have received $23,485.
Tony Patterson, of the Student Life & Activities Department in the Carolina Union, said that he works with Student Congress directly and mediates funding issues regularly. He said the College Republicans did not report their concern to his department.
“In today’s environment of Facebook posting, blogging and tweeting, this one did not go in that direction. Since the announcements were made and blogs were made, I have spoken with the College Republicans,” Patterson said. “I asked them why they didn’t come to our office or to the Director of the Union, or to the Vice Chancellor before doing what they did. They frankly said they didn’t really think about it.”
Fox News and other outlets ran stories about the funding issue.
Winston Crisp, UNC’s Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, said he looked into the case as well and told Board members that the matter wasn’t taken lightly.
“We have been certainly satisfied that whatever else you might want to say about the allocation process, that there certainly wasn’t any intentional bias against the College Republicans because they are conservative group,” Crisp said. “I think that is the central question we need to stay focused on.”
Brittany Best, UNC Student Congress Finance Committee Chair, told the Truestees that since the controversy, she has instituted a more structured funding review process.
“We are trying that out to facilitate more discussion from more representatives on requests,” Best said. “We’ve only had two meetings since that change, but I’ve gotten positive feedback, and I’ve been pleased with the results thus far.”
Best said that the finance committee received budget requests from more than 100 student groups this semester and will fund requests until the money for fall appropriations is depleted.