TOWN COUNCIL WILL CONSIDER A RESOLUTION COMMITTING TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A MUNICIPAL-LEVEL STUDENT-LED ADVISORY BOARD DURING ITS JULY 14TH MEETING
A formal, long term seat at the table allowing students to directly participate in local affairs. That’s what local students are requesting and Town Council will be considering during its upcoming July 14 meeting.
With student enrollment at Appalachian State University continuing to increase, Student Body President Michael Davis and Vice President Cameron Hunter, along with their Executive Cabinet, aim to ensure students aren’t excluded from the local political process.
As such, the Administration submitted a Resolution for Town Council’s consideration committing the Town of Boone in establishing a municipal-level, student-led advisory board, deemed the Mountaineer Committee.
“In what will be a challenging semester for the Town of Boone and University, I think this is a proactive effort by our Administration to formalize the student voice in Boone politics,” said Davis. “Codification of this board is essential to get more students civically involved and to work more closely with the Town in the long term.”
“One of the most important benefits of this student advisory board is its potential long- lasting impact,” Davis continued.
The Resolution is purposefully broad to allow for transparency and input from both students and area residents during the Committee’s creation; however, it includes two mandates: cooperation between the Town and University’s Student Government Association (SGA), and a May 2021 deadline in its establishment.
Historically, there have been limited opportunities for direct student involvement in Town Hall. In 2008, Town Council established a “Town and Gown Committee” comprised of County, Town, University, and student representatives. Following a multiyear hiatus and a push for reinstatement in 2014, the body has since ceased to exist.
Additionally, during SGA’s 47th Session in 2014, the Town created seats reserved for students on some of its existing advisory boards and committees.
While it is unusual for SGA to formally request action by Town Council with a Resolution, the Administration is prepared to follow precedent and pass a similar document through SGA’s Student Senate with the support and help from the Senate’s External Affairs Committee Chair Jenna Kubiak.
“As students, we are integral members of Boone, whose voices deserve to be represented,” said Kubiak. “A student-led committee is necessary to advocate for the student body’s concerns while connecting Appalachian State University and Boone as a whole.”
The purpose of these actions is to ensure accountability and set precedent for future actions further incorporating local students in Town matters.
With Town Council’s vote only days away, Councilmembers Nancy LaPlaca and Dustin Hicks have already come out in public support of the Resolution.
“I applaud the Resolution submitted by the Davis.Hunter Administration,” said LaPlaca. “Including students in a joint student-Town of Boone advisory committee is long overdue.”
LaPlaca hopes to work with students in creating local sustainability initiatives that “start to solve issues like reducing trash and increasing clean energy,” while supporting composting and implementing cost-effective, roof-top solar policies.
Hicks, a recent Appalachian State University graduate, found it confusing and daunting when first getting involved in Town affairs and sees this Resolution as an important milestone in Boone politics.
“I see a very clear need for more accessible modes of student engagement in local politics,” said Hicks. “A board which specifically focuses on their perspective…would be invaluable.”
“I hope that all of Council will support this Resolution,” Hicks continued.
Davis also hopes Councilmembers Ulmer, Clawson, and Furgiuele will support the Administration’s request, citing the role students play in local elections.
“Each election cycle there’s a push to get students politically involved, especially when it comes to voting in local races,” said Davis. “I hope Town Council will vote to ensure the ability of direct political participation by students regardless of if it’s an election year or not.”
The Davis.Hunter Administration, SGA, and local students eagerly await Town Council’s decision.
The 54th Session of Appalachian State University’s Student Government Association is led by Student Body President Michael Davis and Student Body Vice President Cameron Hunter
Copy of Proposed Resolution:
TOWN OF BOONE WATAUGA COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA
RESOLUTION OF THE TOWN COUNCIL IN SUPPORT OF ESTABLISHING A MUNICIPAL-LEVEL STUDENT ADVISORY BOARD KNOWN AS THE “MOUNTAINEER COMMITTEE”
WHEREAS, Appalachian State University is located within the Town of Boone, and has a student body population of approximately twenty-thousand persons; and
WHEREAS, there is no established student-led advisory board directly advocating for the concerns and political involvement of the local student population; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Boone encourages student involvement in Town affairs and promotes the political participation of local students; and
WHEREAS, Appalachian State University’s Director of External Affairs for the Student Government Association (SGA), Adam Zebzda, in cooperation with SGA’s Davis.Hunter Administration, Town leaders, and University officials advocate for the creation of such an advisory body;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Town Council of the Town of Boone, in the County of Watauga, State of North Carolina, that the Town of Boone shall make every reasonable effort to ensure students are advocated for and are able to politically participate on the municipal level;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Town of Boone’s Town Council commits to establishing the Mountaineer Committee, in cooperation with Appalachian State University’s SGA, prior to May 2021, which marks an end to the 2020-2021 academic year as outlined by Appalachian State University’s Academic Calendar.