Students on Board

I couldn't be happier to see students energetically pursuing more involvement in local government, and to see the Town Council welcoming them with open arms. There is clearly a need for more students to serve on Town advisory boards. But I have to ask: Where you been, students?

Student voter turnout in local elections seems to be getting worse, in spite of the fact that there have been candiates that were under 30 in the last 3 municipal elections, and an actual real-live student in the 2003 race! In fact, I campaigned on these issues myself in 1999, but got no traction with students.

So now they are asking for reserved seating on the Planning Board and boards. Students might want to try applying for it like every one else does.

I'll admit that the normal application process is bit cumbersome. But I applied and was appointed to the Transportation Board when I was a student in 1991. There were a few students serving on other boards on 1990's, not to mention one elected to the Town Council.

I don't recall any students applying for any seats we've filled on the Planning Board in the last couple of years that I've been on it, so I really don't think it's the Boards that have been keeping students out. Dare I mention the A-word?

Again, more power to 'em for wanting to to get involved. There is a real need for student involvement in local issues. But please, don't wait around for a gold-plated invitation. Students can have all they want (and more) with just a little effort.



"Politics is the art of making your selfish desires seem like the national interest." -- Thomas Sowell.

Damion--think about your the Sowell quote in context with the current war in Iraq...

(Sorry Ruby--I couldn't help myself.)

BACK TO THE TOPIC AT HAND--when I was a student in college (admittedly, about 1000 years ago) I registered to vote in Cincinnati--even though my parent's home was in NE Ohio. I felt it important to have a say in LOCAL politics--because that was where I LIVED most of the time. Is it possible for students to do that HERE? What about kids who are "out of state"? Anyone know the rules?


My understanding. . .NC has a 30 residency requirement for voting. Once you've lived here that long, you're free to vote.

The Student Body President had a massive voter registration drive this fall that succeeded in registering 1000s, but only a few hundred actually voted. (the SBP even had voter registration cards distributed with Residence Hall Welcome Packets for First-year students.) The interest in increasing student turnout is and has been high for quite some time. It's one of the reasons why one of the no excuses absentee voting sites is at Morehead Plantetarium. We haven't been as successful as we'd like, but it'll remain one of the windmills I continue to attack.

There are currently five positions available on the Orange County Human Relations Commission, and it would be great to have some students apply. Information about the application process for the HRC and other county boards and commissions is available at the URL below. Students interested in serving on the HRC should also feel free to e-mail me with any questions.

This has been going on FOREVER. I was elected to the Chapel Hill Town Council in 1973 while a student at Carolina, and student government back THEN was asking for guaranteed seats on various boards and commissions.


I had no idea you were still in town. It's very nice to meet you (even if it's on a blog!) One of the best things I learned running this year (and I hope others took note) of how amazing it really is for a student to win. It's a big feat. Kudos.


THANKS for responding to the Sowell quote.

I don't deny the war in Iraq is partially about oil but it is also about democracy & freedom for a troubled part of the world.

Until Israel recognizes her Messiah (Jesus) and Islamists recognize the futility of their ideology, the middle East will continue in strife.

President Bush is the man of the hour and I support him 100%. I don't believe the Democrat's accusations and I abhor their disrespect for our President.

The more the Democrats disrespect our President, the bigger the losses for the Democratic Party.

Why should a university unilaterally disarm?


A university is an institution, and would like to see its interests advanced.


For example, a university administrator may believe strongly that affirmative action is the correct policy. What is wrong with a university supporting a politician who shares the same views?


The education of students should be apolitical but it is often not - 90% of liberal UNC teachers voted Democrat, and if you don't think that introduces bias into the culture, you are incorrect.

One observation.

Mason Farm

Registered: 2097

Voted: 93

Turnout: 4.43%

Joseph K.:

What election? Turnout varies greatly from Presidential elections to mid-terms to odd-year local elections. However, four percent is pathetic regardless.

Do you know the geography/borders of this precinct? I gather its largely students.

Mike, I moved to Raleigh in 1984 and still live there. But I'm a part-time grad student at Carolina this semester and am on campus Tuesdays and Thursdays so I decided it was OK to start following Orange County politics again. :)

welcome back Gerry!

I was reading a Herald op-ed the other day, and although it was about the lobbyist petition, it made a very relavent point to this discussion. One of the biggest conflicts we face in this town is between students and residents. And when you think about it, there is absolutely no conversation among students, town, residents, and university.

We have heard the critiques and concerns from residents that students HAVE the opportunity to be involved, and they simply choose not to become involved. And I agree: finding responsible students to consistently fill vacancies on numerous committees is impossible. I highly doubt we could find a single student who would dedicate themselves to Parks and Recreation, Transportation, or even Bicycle and Pedestrian (even though that last one I would think especially affects students.)

So here we are faced with this dilemma. There really IS a need for student involvement in the town. There really IS a need for a new way of students interacting with councilmembers and of residents interacting with students.

I think the new committee charged with exploring these issues is a start; however, I think it should continue. I think this committee should become more formalized and remain as a permanent entity. In this manner, a student affairs committee can address ALL issues that affect students and organize a student voice that will be heard by the various town boards and commissions that we seek to hear us.

What do you guys think? Is there a way that students will be inclined to become involved? Is there a way for us to be heard? Will students and residents ever declare peace?

Mike, I agree that having one clearinghouse for student interests could help focus the council's attention on uniquely student issues. Diluting student input by mandating one slot per board doesn't seem to be a good idea.

I would be interested in what you think those 'unique' issues are, though? Is it housing? Is it law enforcement? Is it parking? All these are parallel concerns for the general populace.

What would distinguish a 'student affair' from the normal issues citizens deal with?

Finally, I disagree about the need for students and residents having to declare peace. I don't see a strict divide - more of a gradation - say from student, to student on the 8 year plan, to student needing money, to former student working to pay off debts/save up for next semester, etc.

Now, I guess you could make an argument about the new gentrification of Chapel Hill creating more of a divide - but in that calculus I end up with more in common with the student community than with these new-type residents. And that is a calculus I don't agree with.

Clever post, Will. All of those issues you talked about are of course important, but there are really more than you or I could name. Bicycle lane policy, fare-free busing, downtown revitalization, rental licensing, and the list goes on. If you think about it, every issue that affects students affects THE WHOLE TOWN. We're a small part of what faces Chapel Hill, but nevertheless, it's something that affects us all.

It's true: students aren't property owners, aren't taxpayers, and don't vote; however, the number of hours that students volunteer in our schools, hospitals, cleanups, etc. is immeasurable. Students are this town's priceless asset. I think that's worth something, and it's worth something big. Big enough for the council to seriously focus on issues that affect students.

I gotta go, but will post more later. Cheers


Keep watching this space. The new committee on student civic participation will be addressing a number of these issues.

By the way -- students are taxpayers (at least those who rent properties in town). I'm sure you realize that no landlord fails to include taxes in their calculation of rents.

I will take exception to the idea that students "don't vote." As a college student I was registered in my district AT THE UNIVERSITY I ATTENDED instead of my hometown...because I wanted to vote on issues that effected the "home" I spent most of my time in. MANY students don't vote--but some do. Niggling--but there it is. I dont know the rules in NC--because I came here as a RESIDENT first and a grad student second--but is one allowed to register to vote at school instead of "home"? Perhaps if the town/League of Voters made that clearer (if it is allowed) you'd have more students registering here...IF THAT IS WHAT YOU REALLY WANT. This may be a case of "be careful what you wish for..."


Mark K: you have said:

"By the way -- students are taxpayers (at least those who rent properties in town). I'm sure you realize that no landlord fails to include taxes in their calculation of rents."

AS a landlord, boy do I wish THAT were true! Actually, a landlord does not have the option of calculating rents. The landlord is only able to charge what the market will bear. So if the market is yielding 9 dollars a foot for rental space, and taxes go up but the market does not. . . well, too bad. The Landlord has to absorb that increase and cannot pass on the taxes to the tenant, because, once again, the tenant will only pay what the market demands.

Oh, and there are plenty of students here who are property tax payers because they own their abodes. And of course, we all pay tax when we shop, but most of that money goes to enrich counties with lots of good stores, like Wake, Guilford, Durham and even Chatham County, which has a good grocery store near the county line. It is very hard to support Orange County with your shopping dollars because there are very few places in Orange County where you can shop.

There are very few places in Orange COunty where you can shop? I beg to differ! I did ALL of my Christmas shopping at University Mall--with the exception of a shelf-sized stereo unit which I bought at Circuit City--but which, in retrospect, I could have purchased at the Walmart in Hillsborough. I DO miss the FYE at UMall--I wonder what the REAL story about that is?--because my kids could walk there from home--but there's still Schoolkids.

There's Branch's if you want a family owned bookstore--and Borders if you want a megastore. There's Fitch's Lumber for a locally owned building supply place--or Slowes if you want a big box.

I will own that I am looking forward to the Target that is replacing SouthSquare--but that will be a "destinaation" shopping trip.

Ther is LOTS of good shopping to be had in OC--Just LOOK!


Both the conservative, and "progressive" students at UNC are pathetic when it comes time to vote, or become involved in local politics. I did a meet and greet for a leading Gobernatorial candidate, and the entire UNC listserve of campus Republicans got invited. ZERO attended. I have heard the same from Democrats.

It would be great to see more involvement from them.

So far Daily Tarheel is the only paper sending a reporter to hear Patrick Ballentine Saturday morning at the Triangle West Republican Club ( so maybe that's another good sign students care.


I'm glad you're making a thread about this. The DTH's coverage did make the point that students have opportunities to get involved, but it lacked showing that students simply choose not to. I think the recent drive by student government however acknowledges the lack of student involvement and is asking the town to take a proactive approach rather than a reactive approach.

Edith Wiggins accepted the charge to create a committee that will deal with these issues and I certainly hope the town and student body can work together to find new ways to involve students or at least empower them enough that they find ways themselves to become involved.


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