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Questions raised as PCC students bus to the polls

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WINTERVILLE, N.C. -

Bussing students to the polls: It's happening at Pitt Community College and it has you asking questions.

Is the school using your tax dollars to do it, all while encouraging students to vote in favor of a tax hike to expand their campus?

9 On Your Side went to get you answers.

"To my knowledge this is the first time it's been done,” says La’Quon Rogers, president of PCC’s Student Government Association.

He helped SGA organize the early voting event, which uses a school-owned activity bus to take students to an early voting location in Winterville.

Roger says it’s meant to encourage civic engagement and help students without cars get to the polls.  

"It is our responsibility to produce active citizens,” he says.

But it's raised some eyebrows in town, as some assume there's a hidden motive.

Also on the ballot this year is a $19.9 million bond referendum that would raise your property taxes to expand PCC’s campus. Since tax dollars fund community colleges like PCC, are you technically paying to bus pro-referendum students to the polls?

"Taxpayer dollars are not used for this process,” assures Don Heisey, PCC’s vice-president of administrative services.

Heisey says SGA, which is student-run, is footing the bill with money from the Student Activity Fund. It’s a pot of money all students agree to contribute to as part of their tuition.

"The Student Government Association made the decision that they wanted to run that bus to the polls for a service for students,” he says. “And they have paid a fee to use that bus for that purpose."

It’s a bus any student organization can rent from PCC, and one Rogers says is open to any student, whether they vote for or against the referendum.

"We are not telling them what to vote for,” Rogers says. “But we're just telling them to vote."

The bus will take students to the polls Wednesday and Thursday. But Rogers says he won't know how much it costs until he gets the gas bill.

As for bus drivers, they're PCC employees who volunteered and had to use vacation time to help out.

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